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" By broad Potomac's silent shore 
Better than Trajan lowly lies, 
Gilding her green declivities 
With glory now and evermore. 
Art to his fame no aid hath lent ; 
His country is his monument." 

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All riihts rtttrvfd 

Copyright, 1916, 

Set up and elcctrotypcd. Published October, 1916. 

Norfaoolt ^rw» 
J. 8. Cashing Co. — Berwick <fc Smith Co. 

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 

OCT 25 1916 
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Washington's Boyhood i 

Life in Old Virginia 15 

The Young Soldier 23 

Washington at Home 35 

The Beginning of the War 44 

Battles near Boston 54 





Defeats in New York 63 

Crossing the Delaware 71 

Dark Days in Pennsylvania ..... 77 

"An Ocean of Difficulties" 88 

The End of the War 97 

Arnold and Andr£ 108 

Our First President . . . . . .124 




Martha Washington 133 

Washington's Friends 144 

Washington's Enemies 158 

The Indian Wars 168 

Second Term as President . . . « .178 

Last Days at Mount Vernon . . • .183 


George Washington .... Frontispieu 


Mount Vernon 36 

Houdon's Statue of Washington .... 80 

Fraunces' Tavern 104 

Martha Washington 134 

The Washington Monument 184 


Washington's Boyhood 

George Washington was born at Bridge's 
Creek in Virginia on the 2 2d of February, 1732, 
and was the fifth son of Augustine Washington, 
a planter, descended from an old English family, 
one of whom, his great-grandfather, came to 
America in reduced circumstances in 1656 as 
''second man in sayleing ye vessel to Virginia." 

Not much is known of George Washington's 
infancy and boyhood. His education may be said 
to have been neglected ; and though possessed of 
more than ordinary common sense, he had little 
schooling. He was a serious sort of boy, am- 
bitious, courageous, and industrious ; particularly 
courageous, as he soon showed while still a mere 
stripling, in games, in the hunting field, and in 
Indian wars, and he was notably industrious also. 


Sagacity was his strongest quality and was to 
serve him in various crises in his later life. 

Tall, rather ^'raw-boned," earnest, acquisitive, 
observant, he foreshadowed in his boyhood the 
steadiness and consistency, the calmness and the 
resolution of his manhood. 

Much of his time was spent on the estate of 
Mount Vernon on the Potomac, which he after- 
wards inherited from his elder brother, Lawrence, 
and there he learned the business of a planter. 
Under his management Mount Vernon became 
one of the finest estates in the country. The 
principal crop was tobacco, as it was of all other 
large estates. 

While his eldest brother was sent to England 
to be educated and came back a scholar, George 
was allowed to pick up such chance knowledge 
as he could, and one of the few books he cared 
for was " The Young Man's Companion," which 
claimed to be a self-instructor in nearly every- 
thing, a sort of encyclopedia, which taught, or 
pretended to teach, how to prepare wills, deeds, 
and all legal forms ; how to build houses ; how to 
survey and navigate; how to doctor the sick; 
how to make ink and cider ; and how to behave. 
In fact, it was little more than a scrapbook. 

George was always a well-behaved boy, and 


truthful, but the story of the cherry tree is prob- 
ably one of the many inventions concerning this 
period of his life. 

His weakest point was his spelling, and not 
even when he was grown up did he acquire correct- 
ness in it. To the last he spelled lie, lye ; Latin, 
latten; rifle, riffle; oil, oyle; and blue, blew. A 
friend wrote of him that "his writing was defective 
in grammar and even spelHng, owing to the in- 
sufficiency of his early education, of which, how- 
ever, he gradually got the better in the subsequent 
years of his life, by the official perusal of some excel- 
lent models, particularly those of Alexander Hamil- 
ton ; by writing with care and persistent attention, 
and reading numerous, indeed multitudes, of letters, 
to and from his friends and correspondents." 

And he himself was fully aware of his deficiencies. 
When it was suggested to him that he should pre- 
pare his autobiography, he said, "A consciousness 
of a defective education and a certainty of the 
want of time, unfit me for such an undertaking.'' 

All the more wonderful was it that he acquired 
before he was middle-aged a power of expression, 
always rich in simple dignity and charm, which 
reminds one of the speeches and writings of Abra- 
ham Lincoln. 

His school days ended when he was fourteen 


years old. He wanted to go to sea, as thousands 
of other boys have done, but in this he was opposed 
by his mother and by an uncle, who said in old- 
fashioned phrases, "I think he had better be put 
apprentice to a tinker, for a common sailor before 
the mast has by no means the liberty of the sub- 
ject, for they will press him from a ship where he 
has fifty shillings a month, and make him take 
twenty-three, and cut and slash, and use him like 
a negro, or rather like a dog." 

He had gathered from '^The Young Man^s 
Companion '4 a smattering knowledge of survey- 
ing and had taken a few lessons from a surveyor, 
so he abandoned his dream of the sea, and worked 
for four years at the surveyor's profession, going 
into the wilderness which stretched from his home, 
and becoming famiUar with the Indians who 
abounded in it. 

"Nothing was left half done, or done in a hur- 
ried or slovenly manner," says Washington Irving. 
"The habit of mind then cultivated continued 
throughout; so that however compHcated his 
tasks and overwhelming his cares, in the arduous 
and hazardous situations in which he was often 
placed, he found time to do everything, and to 
do it well. He had acquired the magic of method, 
which of itself works wonders." 


The hardships of his life as a surveyor in the 
wilderness are shown in his own diary, from which 
we quote a few entries: 

*' Friday, March nth, 1747 : — Began my jour- 
ney in company with George Fairfax, Esq., we 
travelled this day forty miles, to Mr. George 
Marvel's in Prince William County. 

"March 12th : — Rode to his Lordship's quarters 
some miles higher up the river. We went through 
most beautiful groves of sugar-trees, and spent 
the best part of the day in admiring the trees 
and richness of the land. 

"March 23d: — Rained till about two o'clock, 
and then cleared up, when we were agreeably 
surprised at the sight of more than thirty Indians, 
coming from war with only one scalp. After 
clearing a large space and making a great fire 
in the middle, the men seated themselves around 
it, and the speaker made a grand speech, telling 
them in what manner they were to dance. After 
he had finished, the best dancer jumped up, as 
one awakened from sleep, and ran and jumped 
about the ring in the most comical manner. He 
was followed by the rest. Then began their 
music which was performed with a pot half full 
of water, and a deerskin stretched tight over it, 
and a gourd with some shot in it to rattle, and a 


piece of horse's tail tied to it to make it look fine. 
One person kept rattling, and another drumming 
all the while they were dancing. 

"April 2d: — A blowing, rainy night. Our 
straw upon which we were lying took fire, but I 
was luckily preserved by one of our men awakening 
when it was in a flame. 

"April 3d: — Last night was a much more 
blustering night than the former. We had our 
tent carried quite off with the wind, and were 
obliged to lie the latter part of the night without 
covering. There came several persons to see us 
this day. One of our men shot a wild turkey. 

"April 4th: — This morning Mr. Fairfax left 
us with intent to go down to the mouth of the 
river. We did two lots and were attended by 
a great company of people — men, women and 
children — that attended us through the woods 
as we went, showing their antic tricks. Several 
think they seem to be as ignorant a set of people 
as the Indians. They would never speak English, 
but when spoken to they speak all Dutch. This 
day over, our tent was blown down by the violent- 
ness of the wind. 

"April 6th: — Last night was so intolerably 
smoky that we were obliged, all hands, to leave 
the tent to the mercy of the wind and fire. This 


day was attended by our company until about 
twelve o'clock, when we finished. We travelled 
down the Branch to Henry Danmetries'. On our 
journey were caught in a very heavy rain ; we 
got under a straw house until the worst of it was 
over, and then continued our journey. 

*' April 7th : — Rained excessively all last night. 
This morning one of our men killed a wild turkey 
that weighed twenty pounds. We went to survey 
fifteen hundred acres of land, and returned to 
Danmetries' about one o'clock. About two I 
heard that Mr. Fairfax was come up and at Peter 
Capsey's, about two miles off in the same old 
field. I then took my horse and went up to see 
him. We ate our dinner and walked down to 
Danmetries'. We stayed about two hours, and 
walked back again and slept in Capsey's house, 
which was the first night I had slept in a house 
since I came to the Branch. 

"April 8th: — We camped in the woods, and 
after we had pitched our tent and made a large 
fire we pulled out our knapsack to recruit our- 
selves. Every one was his own cook. Our spits 
were forked sticks; our plates were large chips. 
As for dishes we had none." 

In a letter to a friend he wrote: "Since 
you received my letter of October last I have not 


slept above three or four nights in a bed, but, 
after walking a good deal all the day, I have lain 
down before the fire upon a little hay, straw, fodder, 
or a bearskin, whichever was to be had, with man, 
wife, and children, like dogs and cats ; and happy 
is he who gets the berth nearest the fire. Nothing 
would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward. 
A doubloon is my constant gain every day that 
the weather will permit of my going out, and some- 
times six pistoles. The coldness of the weather 
will not allow of my making a long stay, as the 
lodging is rather too cold for the time of year. 
I have never had my clothes off, but have lain 
and slept in them, except the few nights I have 
been in Frederictown." 

Washington was a magnificent horseman. His 
father had taken a great deal of pride in his blooded 
horses, and his mother afterward took pains to 
keep the stock pure. She had several young horses 
that had not yet been broken, and one of them in 
particular, a sorrel, was extremely spirited. No 
one had been able to do anything with it, and it 
was pronounced thoroughly vicious, as people 
are apt to pronounce horses which they have not 
learned to master. George was determined to ride 
this colt, and told his companions that if they would 
help him catch it, he would ride and tame it. 


Early in the morning they set out for the pas- 
ture, where the boys managed to surround the 
sorrel and then to put a bit into its mouth. Wash- 
ington sprang upon its back, the boys dropped 
the bridle, and away flew the angry animal. Its 
rider at once began to command ; the horse resisted, 
backing about the field, rearing and plunging. 
The boys became thoroughly alarmed, but Wash- 
ington kept his seat, never once losing his self- 
control or his mastery of the colt. The struggle 
was a sharp one ; when suddenly, as if determined 
to rid itself of its rider, the creature leaped into 
the air with a tremendous bound. It was its 
last. The violence burst a blood-vessel, and the 
noble horse fell dead. 

Before the boys could sufficiently recover to 
consider how they should extricate themselves 
from the scrape, they were called to breakfast; 
and the mistress of the house, knowing that they 
had been in the fields, began to ask after her stock. 

"Pray, young gentlemen," said she, "have 
you seen my blooded colts in your rambles? I 
hope they are well taken care of. My favorite, 
I am told, is as large as his sire." 

The boys looked at one another, and no one 
liked to speak. Of course the mother repeated 
her question. 


"The sorrel is dead, madam," said her son. "I 
killed him!" 

And then he told the whole story. They say 
that his mother flushed with anger, as her son 
often used to, and then, like him, controlled her- 
self, and presently said, quietly : — 

"It is well; but while I regret the loss of my 
favorite, I rejoice in my son who always speaks the 

I have borrowed this story from Mr. Horace 
Scudder, who tells it in his little book on Wash- 
ington. It may not be wholly true, but it is 
characteristic. That is to say, it exhibits the 
boy as we know he was from other circumstances. 

He was strict with himself as with others, a 
self -disciplinarian ; an athlete who exercised him- 
self with running, leaping, wrestling, pitching 
quoits, tossing ball, and fox hunting. 

Lord Fairfax, an English nobleman who had 
made Virginia his home, was a neighbor and a 
friend, who employed him as surveyor, and gave 
him the advantages of polite society, including 
association with all the prettiest and most talented 
young ladies in the neighborhood. 

"This old nobleman," Mrs. Burton Harrison 
says of Lord Fairfax, in one of her delightful essays, 
"had come out to live in the Virginian wilderness 


in the prime of his manhood, and abandoning his 
beautiful home of Leeds Castle in Kent, England, 
and other estates, contented himself with ruling 
over a principality of land inhabited chiefly by a 
few backwoodsmen, a few scattered families, many 
prowKng and bloody-minded Indians and vast 
abundance of big game. 

*'His lodge of Greenway Court, not far from 
the present town of Winchester, was an abode 
of delight to the boy Washington, who was 
frequently bidden there to stay. In the dining 
room of the writer of these lines hang two large 
plates of old Oriental china, part of a set once 
presented by Washington to Lord Fairfax on his 
arrival at Greenway Court for one of these many 

"From Lord Fairfax he received color and influ- 
ence in many matters relating to literature, cul- 
ture, and the science of diplomacy in foreign courts. 
In a thousand ways their sympathies touched, 
and through all the talks, when Washington stood 
fast for the colonies, Lord Fairfax for the crown, 
they kept their friendship intact. 

"Most schoolboys know the touching story of 
how the news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis 
came to the old baron, as he sat by the chimney 
corner in his great lodge brooding over the trend 


of public events. When convinced that America 
was forever free from England's rule, and, worse 
than all, that it was the lad he had helped to train 
to whom the British commander at York town had 
surrendered an army, he at first said nothing. 
After a while he turned to Black Joe, his body-serv- 
ant, exclaiming plaintively : — 

"'Take me to my bed, Joe ! It is time for me 
to die.'" 

Washington's father was already dead, and his 
older brother, Lawrence, took the father's place, 
and played it well. 

His mother Hved nearly as long as George him- 
self, and to her he was invariably a devoted son. 
In writing to her he always addressed her as 
'' Respected Madam," and signed himself "Your 
Dutiful Son." 

He adopted, as a guide to conduct, "Rules for 
Behavior" which are worth quoting and worth 
learning : — 

"Every action in company ought to be with some 
sign of respect to those present. 

"In the presence of others sing not to yourself 
with humming noise, nor drum with your fingers 
or feet. 

"Be not a flatterer, neither play with any one 
that delights not to be played with. 


"Let your countenance be pleasant, but in 
serious matters somewhat grave. 

'^Show not yourself glad of the misfortune of 
another though he were your enemy. 

"Let your discourse with men of business be 
short and comprehensive. 

"Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable 
yourself; for example is more prevalent than 

"Let your conversation be without malice or 
envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commend- 
able nature; and in all causes of passion, admit 
reason to govern. 

"Be not forward, but friendly and courteous; 
the first to salute, hear and answer; and be not 
pensive when it is time to converse. 

"Detract not from others, neither be excessive 
in commending. 

"Associate yourself with men of good quality, 
if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better 
to be alone than in bad company. 

"In disputes, be not so desirous to overcome, 
as not to give liberty to each one to deliver his 
opinion ; and submit to the judgment of the major 
part, especially if they are judges of the dispute. 

"Play not the peacock, looking everywhere 
about you to see if you be well decked, if your 


shoes fit well, if your stockings set neatly, and your 
clothing handsomely. 

''Think before you speak; pronounce not im- 
perfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, 
but orderly and distinctly. 

"Undertake not what you cannot perform, but 
be careful to keep your promise. 

"Let your recreations be manful, not sinful. 

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little 
spark of celestial fire called Conscience." 

Life in Old Virginia 

We must remember that at this time America 
was a very different country from what it is to-day. 
The United States were not yet on the map. 
Instead of the forty-eight states we have now 
there were but thirteen, and the population of 
the whole country was nearly three million fewer 
than the population of the City of New York 
alone is now. There were no great cities, no rail- 
ways, no telegraphs or telephones, no steamers, 
no electric or gas lights. Towns were far apart 
and small; the plains and prairies had not been 
explored ; the Indians roamed in the primeval 
forests, a constant terror to the settlers. 

" Of the inventions and discoveries which abridge 
distance, which annihilate time, which extend 
commerce, which aid agriculture, which save labor, 
which transmit speech, which turn the darkness 
of night into the brilliance of day, which alleviate 
pain, which destroy disease, which lighten even 
the infirmities of age, not one existed." 



A narrow line of towns and villages extended, 
with many breaks, along the coast from the prov- 
ince of Maine to Georgia. The fishermen's 
cottages were built of roughhewn logs and thatched 
with seaweed. The valleys of the Mohawk and 
the Genesee were the hunting grounds of the 
Oneida Indians, the Mohawks, and the Cayugas. 
Daniel Boone was fighting the Cherokees in the 
canebrakes of Kentucky. 

As late as 1795 Cincinnati consisted of ninety- 
five log cabins and five hundred persons. 

Occasionally a trapper appeared on the frontier, 
who told of the mysterious plains beyond, where 
the grass grew higher than his waist, where flowers 
were more beautiful than in the best kept garden, 
and where the Indians looked on the white man 
as a god or a devil. 

Most of the furniture in the houses was imported 
from England and was of a simple and solid kind. 
The homes themselves often had a mean appear- 
ance, and were neither sanitary nor comfortable. 
Light was derived from homemade candles, heat 
from cavernous open fireplaces and logs. There 
were no carpets or rugs on the floors. Food and 
clothing of the average family were both frugal 
and coarse. 

A well-to-do father of to-day, says John Bach 


McMaster, the historian, spends every year on 
his family as much as would have in those days 
defrayed the public expenses of a flourishing village ; 
schoolmaster, constable, and highways included. 

Children at school had a hard time too. Indeed, 
the teacher who in our day subjected his pupils 
to the rigid discipline, to the hard fare, to the 
sermons, the prayers, and the floggings which 
then fell to the lot of the schoolboy, would be 
held up by the press to universal execration, and 
might count himself fortunate if he escaped with- 
out a prosecution by a society for the prevention 
of cruelty to children, for schoolmasters knew of 
no way of imparting knowledge but by the rod. 

But schools were few, and sometimes to reach 
them children had to walk for miles through 
regions infested with wolves and bears. 

People traveled afoot, on horseback, in private 
carriages or in public coaches. The trip between 
New York and Philadelphia, which by train 
now takes two hours, then took by stage coach 
three days ! Any man who had been in Europe 
was pointed at in the city streets. He had to 
travel, of course, in a sailing ship, and the voyage 
often took three months instead of five days, 
which the Mauretania takes now. 

Virginia was better off than New England, and 


its rich planters lived in greater luxury. They 
found much difficulty in getting enough servants 
to work their estates, and slaves from Africa 
were introduced. That was the beginning of 
slavery in this country, and though Washington 
was disposed to get rid of it, he, Hke all his 
neighbors, acquiesced in what was regarded as a 

He never in his life bought or sold a slave ; those 
he had he inherited. His position is stated by 
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge as follows: ''Wash- 
ington accepted the condition as he found it, as 
most men accept the social arrangement to which 
they are born. He grew up in a world where 
slavery had always existed, and where its rightful- 
ness had never been questioned. Humane by 
nature, he conceived a great interest and a great 
pity for those helpless beings, and treated them 
with kindness and forethought. In a word, he 
was a kind and good master, as well as a success- 
ful one, and the condition of his slaves was as 
happy, and their labors as profitable, as was pos- 
sible to such a system . . . Washington became 
convinced that the whole system was thoroughly 
bad, as well as utterly repugnant to the ideas 
upon which the revolution was fought and the 
government of the United States founded. 


"When he died he did all that lay in his power 
to impress his views upon his countrymen by 
directing that his slaves should be set free on the 
death of his wife. His opinions were those of a 
humane man impatient of wrong, and of a noble 
and farseeing statesman, watchful of the evils 
that threatened his country." 

Until long after the year 1732, the people of 
Virginia reckoned the cost of things, not by pounds, 
shillings, and pence — the English currency — 
but by pounds of tobacco — the Virginia currency. 
The salaries of the clergy were paid in tobacco, 
as were the fees for christening, marrying, and 
burying. Taxes were paid and accounts kept in 

You could easily mistake for a village the 
groups of buildings on one plantation. When 
you looked closer you would find no church, shop, 
or schoolhouse, only the buildings of the planta- 
tion, the house of the planter, the tobacco house, 
in which the tobacco was drying, and the; cabins 
of the negroes, low wooden huts, the chinks in 
the walls filled with clay. 

The tobacco crop was uncertain, now good, now 
bad, and the planter was never sure of his income, 
so he became reckless and was often in debt. He 
usually was extravagant and entertained lavishly. 


inviting any stranger at the inn to his house and 
keeping him there for days or weeks. 

He seldom traveled, except to the little capital, 
Williamsburg, when the House of Burgesses was 
in session there. Then he got out his great yellow 
coach and drove in state with his family through 
the rough roads and the woods, meeting other 
planters and their wives and daughters going in 
the same direction. At the capital there were 
balls and dinners, all the ceremonies of society, 
and much talk of politics. They had good times, 
and then returned in high spirits to their home, 
where the mother would take up again the exact- 
ing round of her duties. 

Her hands were always full; she could not 
escape her thousand and one duties. Having 
no shops near, she had to provide herself in ad- 
vance with all household necessaries. Often she 
taught her children, for no school was near. She 
had to supervise and train her numerous servants, 
setting one to sewing, another to mending, another 
to weaving. Most of the garments and all the 
fabrics used by the family and the servants were 
homemade, and the mistress also nursed and pre- 
scribed for all who were ill. 

A lady who visited such a home and such a 
mistress thus describes her: *'0n one side sits 


the chambermaid with her knitting; on the 
other, a Httle colored pet learning to sew; an old 
decent woman is there with her table and shears, 
cutting out the negroes' winter clothes ; while 
the old lady directs them all, incessantly knitting 
herself. She points out to me several pairs 
of nice, colored stockings and gloves she has 
just finished, and presents me with a pair half 
done, which she begs I will finish and wear for 
her sake." 

In their mansion, the Washingtons lived with 
some luxury and not a little state. They were 
counted as aristocrats by their neighbors, and wel- 
comed by the splendid Fairfaxes, who stood highest 
in the social scale. King George of England still 
reigned over the country, and the states of the 
future were but English colonies with a loosening 
attachment to the English crown. Virginia was 
prosperous, but the country was undeveloped 
and its richness only dimly surmised. 

We catch glimpses of our George at smart 
assemblies, fond of dancing, fond of the pretty 
girls, and fond of fine raiment. He was in fact 
something of a dandy, sending to London for his 
clothes. On one occasion he orders six pairs of 
the "very neatest shoes," one ''suit of the finest 
cloth and fashionable color," "three gold and 


scarlet sword knots," and "one fashionable gold- 
laced hat." 

"Whatever goods you may send me, let them 
be neat and good of their several kinds," he wrote 
to his London tailor. 

But he was no idler or trifler. He studied hard 
and was methodic in all he did. At a very early 
age he kept accounts of his expenditures and of. 
how he spent his time, in order to check waste in 
both. He was, as we have said, fully conscious 
of his deficiency in education, and sought to make 
up for it in all possible ways, especially in the 
study of mathematics. To this day the surveys 
he made for Lord Fairfax and others are consid- 
ered good and valid. 

Now, however, he was to give up surveying and 
to enter on that military career in which he was 
soon to become famous. 


The Young Soldier 

Washington was born with an hereditary taste 
for soldiering; many of his ancestors had fought 
for England, and his brother Lawrence served 
in the West Indies under that Admiral Vernon 
whose name was afterwards given to the estate 
in Virginia. Irving says that "all his amuse- 
ments took a military turn. He made soldiers 
of his schoolmates. They had their mimic 
parades, reviews, and sham fights. A boy named 
William Bustle was sometimes his competitor, 
but George was commander-in-chief of the school." 

The French were in possession of Canada, and 
were scheming to take away from the English 
large parts of their land, claiming all the country 
between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi. 
They sent expeditions from Canada to the southern 
shores of Lake Erie, and from the South, and 
established forts at Presque Isle, where the city 
of Erie now stands, and at Venango on the Alle- 



gheny River. They were also enlisting the Indians 
to fight for them. 

Then it was that Washington, only twenty-one 
years old, was appointed as an emissary to them 
with the rank of major, and he set forth into the 
wilderness to meet the ChevaHer St. Pierre, the 
French commandant. His footsteps were dogged 
by hostile Indians, and more than once he was 
almost ambushed. So successful was he that he 
at once became, as Irving says, "the rising hope 
of Virginia." 

The expedition was full of peril. "For seven 
hundred and fifty miles, more than half the dis- 
tance through an unbroken wilderness, accom- 
panied by only seven persons, he made his way 
to the Ohio," says Mr. J. T. Headley. "Across 
rivers and morasses, over mountains, through 
fearful gorges and amid tribes of Indians, the 
fearless stripling pursued his way, and at length, 
after forty-one days of toil, reached, in the middle 
of December, the end of his journey. Having 
concluded his mission, he set out in the dead of 
winter to retrace his dreary route. The horses, 
after a while, gave out, and the drivers were left 
to take care of them, while Washington and a 
comrade named Gist rushed on alone on foot 
through the wilderness. With his knapsack on 


his back and his gun in his hand, he made his 
way through the deep snow and over the frozen 
ground, without a path to guide his footsteps or 
a sound to waken the solitude, save the groaning 
of trees swinging to and fro in the storm, or the 
cry of some wild animal in search of prey. Travel- 
ing in this manner, they came upon an Indian, 
who, under the pretense of acting as guide, led 
them off their route and then shot at them. Spar- 
ing his life, contrary to the wishes of his friend, 
Washington got rid of him, and walked all night 
to escape pursuit. 

"Coming to the Allegheny River, they found it 
only partly frozen over, and here the two friends 
lay down on the cold snow, with nothing but 
their blankets over them; and thus weary and 
hungry passed the dreary night. The next morn- 
ing they set to work with a single hatchet to build 
a raft, on which they might cross the river. They 
worked all day long on the frail thing, and just 
after sundown succeeded in launching it on the 
turbulent stream. When nearly halfway across, 
huge fragments of floating ice came driving down 
the current, and jamming against the crazy fabric 
of logs, bore it downward and onward, threaten- 
ing at every moment to carry it straight to the 


''Young Washington thrust his long setting 
pole firmly in the ground in front of the raft, in 
order to stop it till the ice and driftwood could 
pass by, but instead of arresting them, he was 
jerked overboard into ten feet of water, where 
he had to swim for his life. Unable to keep the 
raft, the two adventurers swam and waded to an 
island near which they were passing; here amid 
forest and snow, wet to the skin, without a dry 
garment to wrap themselves in, or a blanket to 
cover them, or a spark of fire to warm their be- 
numbed hmbs — with their clothes frozen stiff 
upon their backs, they passed the long, cold, 
wintry night. 

''Young Gist had his feet and hands frozen, 
while Washington, with his greater power of endur- 
ance, escaped. 

"They were now without the means of reaching 
either shore, but the biting cold that benumbed 
their hands and froze stiff the hands and feet 
of Gist, froze also the river with ice between 
them and the shore they wished to gain. Escap- 
ing the shot of the Indian, the dangers of the frost, 
and death from xold, they at length, after an 
absence of eleven weeks, arrived safely at home. 

"When in the imagination I behold this youth 
in his Indian days, his knapsack on his back and 


his gun in his hand, stealing through the snow- 
covered forest at midnight, or plunging about in 
the wintry stream in the struggle for life, or wrapped 
in his blanket sleeping beside the ice-filled river, 
lulled by its sullen roar, I seem to behold one whom 
angels guard through the desperate training which 
can alone fit him for the stern trials that are 
before him." 

And after all this suffering, St. Pierre's answer 
proved unsatisfactory, so a second expedition, 
under Colonel Joshua Fry, was formed to take 
active measures against the French, with Wash- 
ington as second in command. He now ranked 
as lieutenant colonel, and through the death of 
Colonel Fry became chief of the forces. After 
several engagements he was obliged to surrender 
at Fort Necessity, near Fort Dtlquesne, which 
stood on the present site of Pittsburg, being out- 
numbered four to one, yet in face of this defeat 
he covered himself with glory by his strategy and 
by his courage and resourcefulness. The legis- 
lature of Virginia recognized him in a vote of 

The trouble between the French and the col- 
onists grew, and England, the mother country, 
awoke to the necessity of stronger measures. 
She sent out troops in command of Major General 


Edward Braddock, and with him expected to 
make short work of her foes. Braddock himself 
was confident and over-confident. He was a 
brave man, but he misunderstood the task he had 
undertaken. Warfare on the frontier was a very 
different thing from warfare as he knew it. The 
British miscalculated, much as they miscalculated 
in the Boer war more than a century later, but 
the colonists themselves stood in awe of the trained 
soldiers who had come to their support. 

Braddock was haughty and overbearing and 
unwilling to listen to advice. He would have his 
own way in all things. 

However, he enlisted Washington as an aide, 
and treated him civilly enough, though often 
rejecting his advice. Washington, after the pre- 
vious expedition, had retired to Mount Vernon 
and was devoting himself to the cultivation of 
the estate. 

*'The din and stir of warlike preparations dis- 
turbed the quiet," says Irving. "Washington 
looked down from his rural retreat upon the ships 
of war and transports, as they passed up the 
Potomac, with the array of armor gleaming along 
their decks. The booming of cannon echoed 
among his groves. Alexandria was but a few 
miles distant. Occasionally, he mounted his horse 


and rode to that place; it was like a garrisoned 
town, teeming with troops, and resounding with 
the fife and the drum. A brilliant campaign was 
about to open under the auspices of an experienced 
general, and with all the means and appurtenances 
of European warfare. How different from the 
starveling expeditions he had hitherto been doomed 
to conduct! What an opportunity to efface the 
memory of his recent disaster ! All thoughts of 
rural life were put to flight. The military part 
of his character was again in the ascendant; his 
great desire was to join the expedition as a volun- 

He marched away with Braddock^s army, full 
of hope at the beginning, but soon saw its defects. 
It was quite unfitted for the work before it and 
frontier conditions. It lacked mobility and was 
overweighted with unnecessary and inappro- 
priate equipment. It moved slowly. Had Brad- 
dock taken the advice of his youthful aide, disaster 
might have been avoided, but at Fort Duquesne 
the British and Americans were routed and the 
general mortally wounded. 

In his last moments the general apologized to 
Washington for the petulance with which he had 
rejected his advice and bequeathed to him his 
favorite charger and his faithful mulatto servant, 


William Bishop. Washington had again dis- 
tinguished himself by his courage. Three horses 
were shot under him, and four bullets passed 
through his coat. 

"I heard the bullets whistle, and there is some- 
thing charming in the sound/' are the words 
attributed to him. 

The story of the expedition is so interesting that 
perhaps we had better repeat it with fuller details. 

So great was the confidence of General Braddock 
in the outcome of the expedition that he said to 
Benjamin Franklin, "After taking Fort Duquesne, 
I am to proceed to Niagara, and after having taken 
that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time, 
and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly 
detain me above three or four days; and then I 
can see nothing to obstruct my march to Niag- 

"To be sure, sir," Franklin repHed, though he 
had misgivings. 

So they set out, part of the way through the 
clearings Washington had made on his previous 
expedition. The army, a narrow column, was 
four miles from the van to the rear, and was 
impeded by the weight of its own equipment. 
It mustered more than two thousand men, and had 
before it mile after mile of mountain and valley, 


forest and swamp, most of the way without a 
footprint or a trail to guide it. Once they found 
that after four days of toil they had covered only 
twelve miles ! 

When at last they were within eight miles of 
Duquesne, they were attacked by an advance 
guard of the French in ambush. These spread 
themselves within the shelter of the forest, and 
from their covert poured upon them a deadly fire. 

"God save the King,'' cried the English and 
the colonists, for the king was the king of both 
at that time, and they got to cover as well as they 
could. Washington besought Braddock to scatter 
them, but Braddock, who had had no experience 
of this kind of fighting, persisted in exposing them 
in the open. Little chance they had against 
the French who, unseen, assailed them with a 
continuous fire from behind the trees and thickets, 
and among the French were six hundred Indian 
warriors who fought like fiends. 

Washington had been very ill and could hardly 
keep in his saddle, but when the battle began he 
seemed instantly to recover, and flung himself 
into the fight with the greatest spirit. He exposed 
himself with an utter indifference to every danger, 
and had, as we have said, three horses shot under 
him. He escaped without a wound. But only 


a remnant of the troops survived when they began 
their retreat — less than five hundred of the 
thirteen hundred engaged. "Retreat was inevi- 
table," says Woodrow Wilson in his excellent ''Life 
of Washington." "It was blessed good fortune 
that it was still possible. When once it began it 
was headlong, reckless, frenzied. The men ran 
wildly, blindly, as if hunted by demons whom no 
man might hope to resist — haunted by frightful 
cries, maddened by the searching, secret fire of 
their foes, now coming hot upon their heels. 
Wounded comrades, military stores, baggage, 
their very arms, they left upon the ground, aban- 
doned. Far into the night they ran madly on in 
frantic search for the camp of the rear division, 
crying, as they ran, for help; they even passed 
the camp, in their uncontrollable fear of pursuit, 
and went desperately on towards the settlements. 
"Washington and the few officers and provin- 
cials who scoured the town found the utmost 
difficulty in bringing off their stricken general, 
where he lay wishing to die. Upon the fourth 
day after the battle he died, loathing the sight of 
a redcoat, they said, and murmuring praises of 
the 'blues,' the once despised Virginians. They 
buried his body in the road that the army wagons 
might pass over the place and obliterate every 


trace of a grave their savage enemies might rejoice 
to find and desecrate.'^ 

When the army was reorganized and reinforced 
under wiser men than Braddock, it returned to 
the scene of its defeat and wiped out its disgrace 
by a great victory, and henceforth Fort Duquesne 
became Fort Pitt, so named after the famous 
English statesman who afterwards proved him- 
self the stanch friend of America in its revolt 
against English extortion. 

Soon afterward Washington was made com- 
mander in chief of all the forces of Virginia, and 
his promotion was not due to brilliant victories 
but to the sagacity shown by him in defeat. 

"Your name is more talked of in Philadelphia 
than that of any other person in the army," wrote 
a brother officer to him, "and everybody seems 
willing to venture under your command." 

The French and their allied Indians were active 
not only in the South and in the West, but also in 
the North. Terrible tales came of their atrocities. 

"The supplicating tears of the women and the 
moving petitions of the men melt me into such 
deadly sorrow that I solemnly declare, if I know 
my own mind, I could offer myself a wilHng sacri- 
fice to the butchering enemy, provided that would 
contribute to the people's ease." 


Thus spoke Washington, but he was embarrassed 
in his attempts at rehef by legislative squabbles 
and disorder among his men. 

After the fall of Fort Duquesne, Washington 
retired to Mount Vernon to resume the practice 
of husbandry, but the war continued in other 
parts of the country, and only ended with the 
heroic young General Wolfe's great victory at 
Quebec, which forever swept the dominion of the 
French from this continent. 

One can agree with Goldwin Smith that it would 
have been much better if England had said to 
the colonies at this time, ''I have done for you all 
a parent could do. I have secured to you the 
dominion of the new world; you have outgrown 
my protection and control; follow henceforth 
your own destiny, cultivate your magnificent 
heritage, and be grateful to the arm which helped 
to win it for you." 

For the colonies were growing dissatisfied and 
restless under England's rule, and gathering 
clouds were soon to descend in a tempest. 


Washington at Home 

Washington had found a wife in a pretty and 
wealthy young widow, Martha Custis, and though 
she bore him no children, she brought him two 
by her previous husband. He was very domestic 
and loved the estate and the Hfe upon it. He 
bought more and more land adjoining it until 
it comprised more than eight thousand acres, and 
he worked upon it early and late. He had horses, 
sheep, cattle and dogs, a shoemaker's shop, a 
blacksmith's shop, and looms, producing fabrics 
and other articles which he sold in part to his 

*'I begin my diurnal course with the sun," he 
wrote. "If my hirelings are not in their places 
at that time, I send them messages expressive of 
my sorrow at their indisposition. Having put 
these wheels in motion, I examine the state of 
things further. By the time I have accomplished 
these matters, breakfast (a little after seven o'clock) 



is ready. This being over, I mount my horse 
and ride round my farms, which employs me until 
it is time to dress for dinner." 

A visitor thus describes him: "He often works 
with his men himself — strips off his coat, and 
works like a common man. The general has a 
great turn for mechanics. It is astonishing with 
what niceness he directs everything in the build- 
ing way, condescending even to measure the things 
himself, that all may be perfectly uniform." 

His diary records how he and his "smithy" 
produced a much better subsoil plow than could 
be bought, and how he, after many trials, put in 
successful operation an appliance for drilling corn 
and other grain. 

To obviate loss from threshing wheat by spread- 
ing the sheaves in rows on the open ground and 
"treading out" the grain by horses — risking 
much by sudden changes of weather — he planned 
and built a great octagonal barn, with storage 
for crops above the main floor, and a "treading- 
room" in the basement, where on rainy days his 
animals and men could be usefully employed. 

His mills were noted for the excellence of the 
flour, which he shipped not only to West Indian 
ports but to Europe. At the London custom- 
house his "Mount Vernon" brand was accepted 


without inspection. The breeding of livestock 
was a lucrative feature of the estate. Choice 
animals and fowls from abroad were imported, 
and the progeny yielded handsome returns. 

Trees profitable for fruit were bought, and his 
orchards as well as his vineyards became noted. 
The presence even to-day of several species of the 
mulberry at Mount Vernon indicates that the 
culture of silkworms had his attention. Another 
busy department was the spinning-house, where 
practically all the fabrics for clothing his three 
hundred slaves had to be made. There wool was 
spun and woven, home-grown flax was '^ broke, 
hackled and spun" into linen, and from the Caro- 
linas raw cotton was obtained for working into 

This branch of activity was Mrs. Washington's 
special care, and in it she took much pride. Besides 
clothing material, most of the Hnen and cotton 
fabric for household use was there manufactured. 
Some of the older servants, who were too decrepit 
for field duty, were trained in the several processes 
of carding, spinning, and weaving, and others 
were taught to make shoes. Because of remote- 
ness from centers of supply and slowness of trans- 
portation facilities, the planters in those days had 
to be thus self-sustaining. 


Another important feature of the estate was 
its fisheries. ''This river" [the Potomac], he 
wrote, "is well suppHed with various kinds of 
fish at all seasons of the year, and, in the spring, 
with the greatest profusion of shad, herrings, bass, 
carp, perch, sturgeon, etc. Several valuable fish- 
eries appertain to the estate; the whole shore, in 
short, is one entire fishery." 

And being very hospitable he had many guests, 
some of them living with him permanently. 

As an example of the fine hospitality of Mount 
Vernon, we may repeat the incident of the guest 
there who had a bad cold, and who, after retiring 
for the night, heard a knock on his door. It was 
Washington, who, apologizing for the intrusion, 
brought with him a bowl of tea which he had made 
for the guest with his own hands. 

He became very fond of his two step-children, 
John Parke and Martha Parke Custis, who at 
the date of his marriage were respectively six and 
four years old. His pet name for the girl was 
"Patsy," and he frequently bought presents for 
her. Among the orders sent to his London agents 
was one for "ten shillings worth of toys," another 
for "six little books for children beginning to read," 
another for "one fashionably dressed doll to cost 
a guinea," and another for "a very good spinet." 


"Jack," the elder, was a little wayward, however, 
and as he grew up caused his family some disap- 
pointment. A tutor was procured for him, but 
he had no taste for study, and Washington com- 
plained that he preferred dogs, horses, and guns 
to learning. 

"I want to fit you for more useful purposes than 
a horse racer," he protested. 

But Jack did not improve, and a few years later 
married without consulting his mother or his step- 
father who, when Jack died, had to adopt his 
children. Indeed, Washington was the soul of 
patience, and all his life had some member of his 
own or his wife's family on his hands. 

A characteristic letter of his was written to his 
nephew, George Steptoe Washington, the son of his 
brother. Colonel Samuel Washington. It is so full 
of sound advice that I give all of it. Those who are 
seeking mere entertainment may skip it. Those 
who wish to improve themselves will find benefit in 
reading it : — 

"Mount Vernon, 23rd March, 1789. 

" Dear George : As it is probable I shall soon be under 
the necessity of quitting this place and entering once more 
into the bustle of publick life, in conformity to the voice 
of my country and the earnest entreaties of my friends, how- 
ever contrary it is to my own desires or incUnations, I 
think it incumbent on me as your uncle and friend to give 


you some advising hints, which, if properly attended to, 
will, I conceive, be found very useful to you in regulating 
your conduct and giving you respectability not only at 
present but through every period of life. 

" You have now arrived at that age when you must quit 
the trifling amusements of a boy, and assume the more 
dignified manners of a man. At this crisis your conduct 
will attract the notice of those who are about you, and as 
the first impressions are generally the most lasting, your 
doings now may mark the leading traits of your character 
through life. It is therefore absolutely necessary, if you 
mean to make any figure upon the stage of Hfe, that you 
should take the first step right. What these steps are, 
and what general line is to be pursued to lay the founda- 
tion of a happy and honourable progress, is the part of age 
and experience to point out. This I shall do as far as in 
my power, with the utmost cheerfulness, and I trust that 
your own good sense will show you the necessity of follow- 
ing it. 

" The first and great object with you at present is to acquire 
by industry and appHcation such knowledge as your situa- 
tion enables you to obtain and as will be useful to you in 
life. In doing this, two other important objects will be 
gained besides the acquirement of knowledge, namely, a 
habit of industry and disrelish of that profusion of money 
and dissipation of time which are ever attended upon idle- 
ness. I do not mean close application to your studies; 
that you should never enter into those amusements which 
are suited to your age and station. They may be made 
to go hand in hand with each other, and used in their proper 
seasons will be found to be a mutual assistance to each 
other. But what amusements are to be taken and what is 


the great matter to be attended to? Your own judgment, 
with the advice of your real friends, who may have an 
opportunity of a personal intercourse with you, can point 
out the particular manner in which you may best spend 
your moments of relaxation much better than I can at a 
distance. One thing, however, I would strongly impress 
upon you, namely, when you have leisure to go into com- 
pany that it always should be of the best kind that the 
place you are in will afford. By this means you will be 
constantly improving your manners and cultivating your 
mind while you are relaxing from your books, and good 
company will always be found much less expensive than 

■ " You cannot afford as an excuse for not using it that you 
cannot gain admission there, or that you have not a proper 
attention paid you in it. This is an apology made only 
by those whose manners are disgusting or whose character is 
exceptionable, neither of which I hope will ever be said 
of you. I cannot enjoin too strongly upon you a due 
observance of economy and frugality. As you well know 
yourself, the present state of your property and finances 
will not admit of any unnecessary expense. 

" The article of clothing is now one of the chief expenses 
you will incur, and in this I fear you are not so economical 
as you should be. Decency and cleanliness will always 
be the first objects in the dress of a judicious and sensible 
man. A conformity to the prevailing fashion in a certain 
degree is necessary, but it does not follow from thence that 
a man should always get a new coat or other clothes upon 
trifling change in the mode, when perhaps he has two or 
three very good ones by him. A person who is anxious 
to be a leader of the fashion or one of the first to follow 


it will certainly appear in the eyes of judicious men to have 
nothing better than a frequent change of dress to recom- 
mend him to notice. I would wish you to appear sufficiently 
decent to entitle you to admission into any company where 
you may be. I cannot too strongly enjoin it upon you, 
and your knowledge must convince you of the truth of it — 
that you should be as Httle expensive in this object as you 
properly can ; you should always keep some clothes to wear 
to church or on particular occasions, which should not be 
worn every day. This case can be done without any addi- 
tional expense, for whenever it is necessary to get new 
clothes those which have been kept for particular occasions 
will then come in as everyday clothes, unless they should 
be of a superior quaHty of the new. What I have said 
with respect to clothes will apply perhaps more pointedly 
to Lawrence than to you. And as you are much older than 
he is, and more capable of judging of the propriety of what 
I have observed, you must pay attention to him in this 
respect and see that he does not wear his clothes improperly 
or extravagantly. 

" Much more might be said to you as a young man upon 
the necessity of paying a new attention to the moral virtues, 
but this may, perhaps, more properly be the subject of a 
future letter when you are about to enter into the world. 
If you comply with the advice herein given, to pay a diligent 
attention to your studies and employ your time of relaxa- 
tion in proper company, you will find but few opportunities 
and little inclination while you continue at an academy 
to enter those scenes of vice and dissipation which too often 
present themselves to youth in every place, and particularly 
in towns. If you are determined to neglect your books 
and plunge into extravagance and dissipation, nothing 


that I could now say would prevent it, for you must be 
employed, and if it is not in pursuit of those things which 
are profitable, it must be in pursuit of those which are 

" Your affec. friend and uncle, 
"Go. Washington. 
"To Mr. George S. Washington." 

In his habits and appearance George Washing- 
ton was much like an English country gentleman, 
blue-eyed, kind, dignified, and hospitable. We 
can infer that, but for the dictates of duty and the 
demands on his patriotism, he would have chosen 
to remain a country gentleman, fully content with 
the simplicity of his life as a Virginia planter. We 
can see him going about his farm, keenly observ- 
ant, strict but humane with his servants, tall 
and upstanding, fresh-faced, vigorous, and expect- 
ing from all under him a measure of his own dili- 
gence and precision. Of all the words we have 
used in describing him, none fits him better than 
that one word "stately." 


The Beginning of the War 

England now treats her colonies with such 
fairness that they are with her heart and soul, 
as in the last great war, but for more than ten 
years before the Revolutionary War began she im- 
posed upon them and exasperated them. Her 
navigation laws compelled them to export their 
productions only to countries belonging to the 
British crown, and to import European goods 
solely from England and in British ships. All 
manufactures of the colonies that might interfere 
with those of the mother country were prohibited 
or subjected to restraints. Taxes were imposed. 
The colonists protested that there should be no 
taxation; that is to say, that so long as they 
were not represented in the EngHsh parliament 
they should not be taxed. The exactions increased. 
In 1765 a stamp act was passed by ParHament 
which required all documents to be written on 
stamped paper purchased from the government. 
Virginia was particularly enraged. 



With Washington in the House of Burgesses 
sat Patrick Henry, a young lawyer of impassioned 
eloquence, who introduced resolutions declaring 
that not Parliament but the General Assembly 
of Virginia alone had the right and power to levy 

*Xaesar had his Brutus," Patrick Henry ex- 
claimed, "King Charles his Cromwell, and George 
the Third — may profit by their example." 

"Treason! Treason!" cried a few of the bur- 

"Sir !" he went on, "if this be treason, make the 
most of it!" 

The resolutions then passed were followed by a 
general outcry, and addresses praying for redress 
were sent to the king and to Parliament. 

In Boston the people pulled down the house of 
a stamp distributor, and setting fire to it burned 
him in effigy. The ships in the harbor showed 
their colors at half mast. In New York the 
printed law was carried about the streets on a pole, 
surmounted by a death's head, with a scroll bear- 
ing the inscription, "The folly of England is the 
ruin of America." 

The British government was alarmed and made 
some effort to pacify the colonists, without suc- 
ceeding. The king was obstinate and his prime 


minister, Lord North, was weak. Some young men 
in Boston attacked the British troops and were 
fired on. Only five of them were killed and six 
wounded after much provocation, but this fray 
became known as the ''Boston Massacre" and 
added to the excitement. 

Removing some of the taxes, the government 
still insisted on a tax on tea, and the people re- 
solved to give up the use of that article entirely. 
More than that, some of them in Boston, disguised 
as Indians, boarded the ships in the harbor which 
were laden with tea, and emptied all there was of 
it into the sea. Their adventure has always been 
called the "Boston Tea-Party." 

In reprisal ParHament passed the Boston Port 
Bill and other measures which punished that 
city by putting an embargo on all its commerce 
and ending all its privileges. The news of this 
soon reached Virginia, and threw the House of 
Burgesses into revolt. They passed resolutions 
of sympathy which the governor, Lord Dunmore, 
would not accept. 

"Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the House of 
Burgesses," he said, "1 have in my hand a paper, 
pubHshed by order of your house, conceived in 
such terms as reflect highly upon his Majesty 
and the ParHament of Great Britain, which makes 


it necessary for me to dissolve you, and you are 
dissolved accordingly." 

We can imagine the temper in which this was 
received, partly in derision and partly in defiance. 
The burgesses left the hall and went to a neighbor- 
ing tavern where they repeated their protests 
and proposed the summoning of a general congress 
of the various colonies. Many in England sym- 
pathized with them, including the great Earl of 

Even yet they did not aim at separation. Ben- 
jamin Franklin declared that having traveled the 
whole country he had never heard from any per- 
son a wish for separation, or a hint that such a 
thing could be of advantage to America. 

Washington said in October, 1774, '^I am well 
satisfied that no such thing as independence is 
desired by any thinking man in all North America ; 
on the contrary, that it is the ardent wish of the 
warmest advocates for liberty that peace and 
tranquillity on constitutional grounds will be 
restored, and the horrors of civil discord pre- 

There were as many as twenty-five thousand 
loyalists who for some time supported the king 
and Parliament, but their numbers gradually 


The first Continental Congress met in Carpen- 
ter's Hall, Philadelphia, and all the colonies were 
represented in it, except Georgia. Washington 
was present as a delegate from Virginia. The 
first public measure was a resolution against recent 
acts of Parliament violating the rights of the people 
of Massachusetts. 

''To these grievous acts and measures," the 
resolutions declared, "Americans cannot submit; 
but in the hopes their fellow-subjects in Great 
Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to 
that state in which both countries found happi- 
ness and prosperity, we have, for the present only, 
resolved to pursue peaceable measures." 

The Congress remained in session fifty-one 
days, and the Earl of Chatham, speaking in the 
House of Lords of what it did, praised it in no 
uncertain terms. He said, ''When your lordships 
look at the papers transmitted to us from America ; 
when you consider their decency, firmness, and 
wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause and 
wish to make it your own. For myself, I must 
declare and avow that in the master states of the 
world, I know not the people, or senate, who, in 
such a combination of difficult circumstances, 
can stand in preference to the delegates of America 
assembled in General Congress in Philadelphia." 


When Patrick Henry, who also was a delegate, 
was asked whom he considered the greatest man 
in Congress, he replied, ''If you speak of eloquence, 
Mr. Rutledge, of South Carolina, is by far the 
greatest orator, but if you speak of solid informa- 
tion and sound judgment, George Washington 
is undoubtedly the greatest man on the floor." 

Little was done by Parliament to pacify the 
discontented people, and the outbreaks grew more 
and more formidable. Military preparations, hith- 
erto confined to New England, spread to the Middle 
and Southern colonies, and Virginia was among 
the first to buckle on its armor. Washington 
at once became, from the confidence he inspired 
and the abilities he possessed, the military leader 
of the people. 

At a meeting at Richmond, Patrick Henry 
said, "It is useless to address further petitions 
to the government, or to await the effects of those 
already addressed to the Throne. The time for 
supplication is past; the time for action is at 
hand. We must fight, Mr. Speaker! I repeat 
it. Sir, we must fight ! An appeal to arms and 
to the God of Hosts is all that is left to us." 

The cooler and more deliberate Washington 
also, at last, saw with the greatest reluctance 
that war was inevitable. He wrote to his brother, 


"It is my full intention, if necessary, to devote 
my life and future to this cause." 

The Massachusetts colonists had a store of 
guns and ammunition at Concord, which General 
Gage, the British commandant, decided to seize 
by stealth. He dispatched his troops from Boston 
for Concord at night, but the colonists surprised 
him more than he surprised them. They had 
learned of his expedition, and as the troops ad- 
vanced they were preceded in the villages on the 
way by the clang of bells and the reports of alarm 
guns. By the time the British reached Lexington, 
they were confronted by about seventy of the 
patriots who were armed and ready for the fray. 
Shots were exchanged, but the forces were so 
unequal that the Americans were obliged to retreat. 

Then the British continued on their way to 
Concord, and there met with an inglorious defeat. 
As they retreated to Boston, they were assailed 
by the murderous fire of sharpshooters behind 
every wall and fence, and thus sounded ''the shot 
heard round the world," of which Emerson has 
sung. The Americans were indeed "embattled 
farmers," most of them without uniform, in the 
dress of every day, recruits from field and shop, 
old and young. 

Probably never before in history had a few ciyil- 


ians met and routed such a body of trained soldiers. 
The war had begun in earnest. But the odds were 
against the Americans, for they had used up their 
ammunition and were unpaid and without arms 
or proper clothing. The disposition to uphold 
the army was general, but much jealousy was 
shown as to who should be commander in chief. 

A second Congress met in Philadelphia, and 
there John Adams brought the members to a 
decision. He said, ^'I had no hesitation to declare 
that I had but one gentleman in mind for that 
important command, and that was a gentleman 
from Virginia, who was among us, and very well 
known to all of us; a gentleman whose skill and 
experience as an oi3icer, whose independent fortune, 
great talents, and excellent universal talents, 
would command the approbation of all America 
and unite the cordial exertions of all the colonies 
better than any other person in the Union. Mr. 
Washington, as soon as he heard me allude to 
him, from his usual modesty, darted into the 
library. '^ 

So Washington was elevated to that high posi- 
tion almost against his own judgment and wishes. 

"However," he said, "as Congress desires it, 
I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert 
every power I possess in their service and for the 


support of the glorious cause. As to pay, I beg 
leave to assure Congress that as no pecuniary 
consideration could have tempted me to assume 
this arduous employment, at the expense of my 
domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to 
make any profit from it." 

To Mrs. Washington he wrote, ^'So far from 
seeking this appointment, I have used every 
endeavor in my power to avoid it ; not only from 
my unwillingness to part from you and the family, 
but from a consciousness of its being too great 
a trust for my capacity. I should enjoy more 
real happiness from a month with you at home 
than I have the most distant prospect of finding 
abroad if my stay were to be seven times seven 
years. But as it has been a kind of destiny that 
has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope 
that my undertaking it is designed to answer 
some good purpose." 

Then he was solicitous for those dependent upon 
him during his absence from home, and wrote 
to his steward, 'Tet the hospitality of the house 
with respect to the poor be kept up. Let no one 
go hungry away. If any of this kind of people 
should be in want of corn, supply their necessities, 
provided it does not encourage them to idleness, 
and I have no objection to your giving my money 


in charity to the amount of forty or fifty pounds 
a year, when you think it well bestowed. What I 
mean by having no objection is, that it is my 
desire it should be done. You are to consider 
that neither myself or my wife is now in the way 
to do those good offices." 

Washington commands respect from our first 
knowledge of him, but the more one reads of him 
the more respect warms into profound admiration 
and affection. 

He preferred peace; he would have avoided 
war if he could. He said : '' My first wish is to see 
this plague to mankind banished from the earth, 
and the sons and daughters of this world employed 
in more pleasing and innocent amusements than 
in preparing implements and exercising them for 
the destruction of mankind. Rather than quarrel 
about territory, let the poor, the needy, and op- 
pressed of the earth, and those who want land, 
resort to the fertile plains of our western country, 
the second land of promise, and there dwell in peace, 
fulfilling the first and great commandment." 


Battles near Boston 

On May 5, 1775, ships of war and transports 
arrived from England, bringing reinforcements 
under Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton. 
The Americans were besieging Boston, in which 
their adversary was shut up. 

^'What!" cried Burgoyne. "Ten thousand 
peasants keep hve thousand king^s troops shut 
up ! Well, let us get in, and we'll soon find elbow 

The Americans were undisciplined and ill- 
prepared. The greater part of them had never 
seen service. But most of them were good marks- 
men, and that was to tell against the better equip- 
ment and numbers of the enemy. The battle 
of Bunker Hill was fought, and there the colonists 
proved that they could measure weapons with the 
British, though after much hard fighting, and 
with immense loss to the enemy, they were de- 



Woodrow Wilson says: "There was no hurry, 
it seemed, about attacking the sixteen thousand 
raw provincials [Americans] whose long lines 
were drawn loosely about the town from Charles- 
town Neck to Jamaica Plain. But commanding 
hills looked across the water on either hand — in 
Charles town on the north and in Dorchester on 
the southeast — and it would be well, General 
Howe saw, to secure them, lest they should be 
occupied by the insurgents. On the morning of 
the 17 th of June, however, while leisurely prep- 
arations were a-making in Boston to occupy the 
hills of Charles town, it was discovered that the 
provincials had been beforehand in the project. 

"There they were in the clear sun, working dili- 
gently at redoubts of their own upon the heights. 
Three thousand men were put across the water 
to drive them off. Though they mustered only 
seventeen hundred behind their unfinished re- 
doubts, three several assaults and the loss of a 
thousand men was the cost of dislodging them. 
They withheld their fire until they were within 
fifty — nay, thirty — yards of them, and then 
poured out a deadly, blazing fire which no man 
could face and live. They were ousted only when 
they failed of powder and despaired of reinforce- 
ments. Veteran officers who had led the assault 


declared the regulars of France were not more 
formidable than these miHtia-men, whom they had 
despised as raw peasants." 

Washington then arrived, and under the great 
elm on the common at Cambridge took his place 
as commander in chief. 

The appearance of Boston changed under mili- 
tary preparations. Washington wrote, "Who 
would have thought, twelve months past, that all 
Cambridge and Charlestown would be covered 
over with American camps, and cut up into forts 
and intrenchments, and all the fields and orchards 
laid common, horses and cattle feeding in the 
choicest mowing land, whole fields of corn eaten 
down to the ground, and large parks of well- 
regulated locust trees cut down for firewood and 
other public purposes? This, I must say, looks 
a little melancholy. My quarters are at the foot 
of Prospect Hill, where great preparations are 
made for the reception of the enemy. It is very 
diverting to walk among the camps. They are 
as different in their forms as the owners are in 
their dress, and every tent is a portrait of the 
temper and tastes of the persons who encamp in 
it. Some are made of boards and some of sack 
cloth. Some partly of one and partly of the other. 
Again, others are made of stone and turf, brick 


or branch. Some are thrown up in a hurry, others 
curiously wrought, the doors and windows done 
with withes and witches in the manner of a 
basket. Some are your proper tents and marquees, 
looking like the regular camp of the enemy.'' 

One of his first orders stated that ''exact dis- 
cipline will be observed, and due subordination 
expected through the whole army, as a failure in 
these most essential points must necessarily pro- 
duce extreme hazard, disorder, and confusion, 
and end in shameful disappointment and dis- 
grace." He forbade swearing and drunkenness 
and "required and expected of all officers and 
soldiers not engaged in actual duty, a punctual 
attendance on divine service, to implore the 
blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our 
safety and defence." 

Meanwhile the Americans carried the war into 
Canada, under such officers as Ethan Allen, Bene- 
dict Arnold, and Richard Montgomery, but 
though their expeditions were gallant, they did 
not succeed in conquering that country. 

Washington, as ever, showed his magnanimity 
toward the French Canadians by writing to Gen- 
eral Arnold thus : — 

" I give it in charge to you to avoid all disrespect 
of the religion of the country and its ceremonies. 


Prudence, policy, and a true Christian spirit 
will lead us to look with compassion upon their 
errors without insulting them. While we are 
contending for our own liberty, we should be very 
cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in 
others, ever considering that God alone is the 
Judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in 
this case they are answerable." 

He was solicitous for all prisoners, even for a 
son of Lord Chatham who was supposed to be 
traveling in Canada, and his attitude toward the 
enemy may be seen in another letter to Arnold : — 

"If Lord Chatham's son should be in Canada, 
and in any way should fall into your power, you 
are enjoined to treat him with all possible deference 
and respect. You cannot err in paying too much 
honor to the son of so illustrious a character, and 
so true a friend to America. Any other prisoners 
who may fall into your hands you will treat with 
as much humanity and kindness as may be con- 
sistent with your own safety and the public inter- 
est. Be very particular in restraining not only your 
own troops, but the Indians, from all acts of cruelty 
and insult, which will disgrace the American arms 
and irritate our fellow-subjects against us." 

Furthermore : — "You will be particularly care- 
ful to pay the full value for all provisions, or other 


accommodations, which the Canadians may pro- 
vide for you on your march. By no means press 
them or any of their cattle into your service, but 
amply compensate those who voluntarily assist 
you. For this purpose you are provided with a 
sum of money in specie, which you will use with 
as much frugality and economy as your necessities 
and good poHcy will admit, keeping as exact 
an account as possible of your disbursements. 

^'As the contempt of the religion of a country 
by ridiculing any of its ceremonies, or affronting 
its ministers or votaries, has ever been deeply 
resented, you are to be particularly careful to 
restrain every officer and soldier from such impru- 
dence and folly, and to punish every instance of 
it. On the other hand, as far as lies in your power, 
you are to protect and support the free exer- 
cise of the rehgion of the country, and the undis- 
turbed enjoyment of the rights of conscience in 
religious matters, with your utmost influence and 

The siege of Boston continued through the 
winter, and the great chief writing to a friend in 
Virginia thus described his position: — 

^'The enemy in Boston and on the heights at 
Charlestown (two peninsulas surrounded in a 
manner by ships of war and floating batteries) 


are so strongly fortified as to render it almost 
impossible to face their lines, thrown up at the 
head of each neck. 

"We can therefore do no more than keep them 
besieged, which they are, to all intents and pur- 
poses, as closely as any troops on earth can be 
who have an opening to the sea. Our advanced 
works and theirs are within musket-shot. We 
daily undergo a cannonade, which has done no 
injury to our works and very little hurt to our 
men. Those insults we are compelled to submit 
to for want of powder ; being obliged, except now 
and then giving them a shot, to reserve what we 
have for closer work than cannon distance." 

One morning early in March the British were 
astonished to find a great new fortification thrown 
up on Dorchester Heights. 

"The rebels have done more in a single night 
than my whole army would have done in a month ! " 
bitterly exclaimed General Howe, the British chief. 

It was like a work of magic, and threatened the 
British positions as they had not been threatened 
before. So formidable was it that it overawed 
General Howe, who began to think of retiring 
without waiting for the reinforcements he expected. 
He had scouted the idea of being "in danger from 
the rebels"; he had "hoped they would attack 


him." But now his confidence left him, and he 
had to choose between a night attack on Boston 
or the evacuation of that city. The night attack 
was prevented by a violent storm which played 
havoc with the transports, and on March 17, 1776, 
the British, in seventy-eight ships, departed, leav- 
ing the city and its neighborhood for good. 

While Washington was in possession of General 
Howe's headquarters in Boston, he placed on his 
knee the little granddaughter of his landlady, and 
asked the child which she like the best, the red- 
coats who had gone, or the Americans who had 
displaced them. ^'The redcoats," the child replied, 
thinking of their more brilliant uniform. ^'Ah, 
my dear," said Washington, patting her, ^'they 
look better, but they don't fight as well. The 
ragged fellows are the boys for fighting." So 
indeed they were proving themselves to be, though 
one German officer wrote: ^'Our army is strong, 
finely clothed, and in excellent condition; full 
of courage and beautifully drilled; capable of 
looking into the white of the eye of Washington 
and all his tatterdemalions." 

Washington had been criticized for his apparent 
inactivity, but later on he was hailed for the genius 
by which in the course of a few months he had 
improved his forces. 


Unlike the British commander, he had not been 
over-confident and arrogant. There is a letter 
of his describing the anxious hours he suffered 
before the British retired : — 

"The reflection on my situation, and that of 
this army, produces many an unhappy hour when 
all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people 
know the predicaments we are in, on a thousand 
accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster 
happens to these lines, from what cause it flows. 
I have often thought how much happier I should 
have been, if, instead of accepting command under 
such circumstances, I had taken my musket on 
my shoulder and entered the ranks ; or, if I could 
have justified the measure to posterity and my 
own conscience, had retired to the back country 
and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise 
superior to these, and many other difficulties 
which might be enumerated, I shall religiously 
believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to 
bHnd the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we 
get well through this month, it must be for want 
of their knowing the disadvantages we labor 


Defeats in New York 

When General Howe was driven from Boston, 
he steered for Halifax to await the delayed rein- 
forcements from England, and afterwards moved 
on New York, where Washington arrived before 
him with the greater part of his army. The first 
battle was that of Long Island, in which the Ameri- 
cans were defeated through their unpreparedness. 

The British fleet nearly filled the harbor, and the 
British army included thirty thousand men, per- 
fectly equipped. They had possession of Staten 
Island and made their way up the Hudson un- 
opposed. General Howe put twenty thousand 
men ashore at Gravesend Bay, and there he in- 
tended to attack the Americans gathered on Brook- 
lyn Heights, but before he could reach them Wash- 
ington had made a masterly retreat, taking his 
ten thousand men, with all their stores and arms, 
across the East River. 

Earl Howe, the General's brother, was in com- 
mand of the fleet, and he now declared himself 



empowered to compromise the dispute and pardon 
the offenders. 

*'No doubt we all need pardon from Heaven 
for our manifold sins and transgressions," said 
Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, "but the 
American who needs the pardon of his Britannic 
Majesty is yet to be found." 

A conference took place on Staten Island 
and the old house where the meeting was held is 
still standing, a venerable reminder of Revolu- 
tionary days. 

The American committee consisted of Benjamin 
Frankhn, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge. 
All three had signed the Declaration of Independ- 
ence. The Earl had been a warm friend and 
admirer of Franklin during the latter's stay in 
England, and high hopes had been based on the 
possible outcome of this meeting. The Americans, 
however, refused to entertain any proposal looking 
toward an amicable settlement unless Great Brit- 
ain's representative first acknowledged the in- 
dependence of the rebellious colonies. As the 
Earl was not empowered to make so sweeping a 
concession, the conference came to naught. 

At its conclusion the Earl expressed his sorrow 
at the failure of the conference and the necessity 
he would be under to continue the conflict. 


"I feel thankful to your lordship for your re- 
gard," said Benjamin Franklin, with his unfailing 
humor. "The Americans on their part will en- 
deavor to lessen the pain you feel by taking the 
best possible care of themselves." 

Soon after the Declaration of Independence was 
signed, a second mild attempt at conciliation was 
made. Howe, the British commander, and his 
brother, Admiral Howe, were ordered by their 
government to parley with the Americans, and one 
afternoon word came that a boat was coming from 
the British lines to the American camp. Another 
boat went out to meet it. A lieutenant was in 
command of the British boat, who had in his 
possession a letter addressed to *'Mr. Washington. " 
Colonel Reed, in charge of the American boat, said 
he knew no "Mr. Washington," only General 
Washington. The British were unwilling to rec- 
ognize Washington by that title, and the parties 
separated without the delivery of the letter. It 
was only a point of etiquette but Washington was 
firm on it. 

Five days later the British again approached, 
and this time referred to Washington as "Your 
Excellency," while they addressed him as "George 
Washington, Esquire," etc., etc. 

Lord Howe thought this would do, but Wash 


ington would accept nothing less than his full and 
proper title, and Lord Howe at last had to inform 
his government that it would be necessary to back 
down, and that they did rather ignominiously. 

Congress approved of Washington's attitude in 
the matter, and directed that no message or letter 
should be received on any occasion whatsoever 
from the enemy, by the commander in chief or 
by any other commander, except such as were 
properly addressed to them by their titles. 

In the meantime General Israel Putnam, on 
Washington's orders, abandoned New York and 
joined him on the heights of Harlem, where the 
commander in chief was intrenched. He had 
thousands of men strengthening his position. 
Passing among them he found a youth of nineteen 
whose work showed extraordinary skill and zeal. 
This was Alexander Hamilton, whose warm friend 
till the end of his life Washington then became. 

Hamilton is described as appearing at the head 
of a company of artillery, a "mere boy, with a 
small, delicate, and tender frame, who, with a 
cocked hat pulled down over his eyes, and ap- 
parently lost in thought, marched beside his 
cannon, patting it every now and then as if it were 
a favorite horse or pet plaything." 

An attempt of the enemy to break through 


the lines of Harlem Heights failed, with heavy loss, 
and this did something to revive the spirits of 
the American troops, but they were in a bad way, 
and Washington said, ^'Unless some speedy and 
effectual measures are adopted by Congress, our 
cause is lost." Under these gloomy apprehensions 
he borrowed "a few moments from the hours 
allotted for sleep," and sent Congress a letter 
setting forth the inefficiency of the existing military 
system, the disobedience, waste, confusion, and 
discontent produced by it among the men, and the 
vexations it caused the officers. He not only 
complained but pointed out the remedies. As a 
result the army was reorganized and established 
on a permanent footing. It was decreed that 
eighty-eight battalions should be raised by the 
different states, according to their abilities, and 
the conditions of service were very much improved 
in all respects. But there were still many dis- 
couragements for the Americans, and decisive 
victory was still far off. From New York they 
were obliged to retreat across the Hudson to New 
Jersey, and then across the Delaware to Pennsyl- 

"How long, sir, shall we continue to retreat?" 
an officer asked Washington, who replied, "If we 
can do no better, we will retreat over every river in 


America, and last of all over the mountains, where 
we shall never lack opportunity to annoy, and 
finally, I hope, to expel the enemies of our coun- 

Various expedients were tried to keep the British 
back. Putnam had placed obstructions across the 
Hudson near Spuyten Duyvil. He sank ships 
loaded with stones across the river, and had a sort 
of primitive torpedo-boat, with which he hoped 
to blow up the British men-of-war. The good 
ships of stout oak broke through the vaunted 
barriers as through a cobweb, and a well-aimed 
shot sent the submarine engine to the bottom of 
the river. 

An English officer wrote to a friend in London, 
''The Rebel army are in so wretched a condition 
as to clothing and accouterments, that I believe 
no native ever saw such a set of tatterdemalions. 
There are few coats among them but what are out 
at the elbows, and in a whole regiment there is 
scarcely a pair of breeches. Judge, then, how they 
must be pinched by a winter's campaign. We who 
are warmly clothed and well-equipped already 
feel it severely, for it is even now much colder than 
I ever felt it in England." 

That Washington succeeded as well as he did 
was amazing in view of the inexperience of his 


troops, who in the main were as undisciplined as 
they were ununiformed. It was indeed difficult 
to keep them in order. They wished to elect their 
own officers, and then to treat them as equals. 
In one instance the colonel of a regiment served 
as barber for his men. Boys in their teens fought 
side by side with men of sixty and over. There 
was one company of twenty-four men whose 
united ages reached a thousand years. They were 
all married men and left behind them at home a 
hundred and fifty-nine children and grandchildren. 
Nor did they always leave their offspring behind. 
Often a grandfather fought side by side with his 
son and his grandson. But in the beginning all 
of them were held in contempt by the aristocratic 
Germans and British, who neither sympathized 
with them nor understood such simple democrats 
as the Americans were. "What!" said a haughty 
Hessian, ''this fellow is a butcher, and they call 
him major ! This a grocer, and they call him 
colonel ! This an old farmer, and they call him 
general. Why, there is not a gentleman among 
them ! " The English employed German mercenaries. 
Washington was so far playing a losing game, 
and what could be more pathetic than the sight 
of his ragged soldiery standing up in skirmish 
after skirmish and battle after battle in the neigh- 


borhood of New York against superior numbers 
and superior equipment. He bore every reverse 
with the utmost fortitude, seldom, in his heart of 
hearts, and in the midst of disasters, losing faith 
in the ultimate success of his plans. 

Fort Washington, below Spuyten Duyvil on the 
Hudson, regarded as impregnable, had fallen with 
heavy losses, and all during Washington's retreat 
through New Jersey he was much harassed, 
especially by the hired Hessians, who included in 
their ranks many desperate characters, such as 
thieves and murderers. It was midwinter and 
the American soldiers were in rags. Many of the 
people of New Jersey were themselves either 
half-hearted in the cause of liberty or openly dis- 
loyal to the patriots and were only aroused by the 
ill-treatment they received from the foe. 


Crossing the Delaware 

There is an interesting description of Vl^sh- 
ington as he appeared to his contemporaries, by 
one who commanded a company in the Revolution- 
ary War, and who saw him before the crossing of 
the Delaware. 

"Washington, '^ he says, "had a large thick 
nose, and that day I saw him, gave me the impres- 
sion that he was not so moderate in the use of 
liquors as he was supposed to be. I found after- 
wards that this was a peculiarity. His nose was 
apt to turn scarlet in a cold wind. He was stand- 
ing near a small camp fire, evidently lost in thought, 
and making no effort to keep warm. He seemed 
six feet and a half in height, was as erect as an 
Indian, and did not relax for a moment from a 
military attitude. Washington's exact height was 
six feet two in his boots. 

"He was then a little lame from striking his 
knee against a tree. His eye was so gray that it 



looked almost white, and he had a troubled look 
on his colorless face. He had a piece of woolen 
cloth around his throat and was quite hoarse. Per- 
haps the throat trouble from which he finally died 
had its origin about then. 

''Washington's boots were enormous. They 
were number 13. His ordinary walking shoes 
were number 11. His hands were large in propor- 
tion and he could not buy a ready-made glove to" 
fit him, and so had to have his gloves made to 
order to fit him. 

''His mouth was his strong feature, his lips 
always being tightly compressed. That day they 
were compressed so tightly, as to be painful to 
look at. ! 

"At that time he weighed two hundred pounds, 
and there was no surplus flesh about him. He was 
tremendously muscled, and the fame of his great 
strength was everywhere. His large tent when 
wrapped up with poles was so heavy that it re- 
quired two men to place it in the camp wagon. 
Washington would lift it up with one hand and 
throw it into the camp wagon as easily as if it 
were a pair of saddle-bags. He could hold a 
musket with one hand and shoot with precision 
as easily as other men did with a horse pistol. 

"His lungs were his weak point and his voice 


was never strong. He was at that time in the 
prime of life. His hair was a chestnut-brown, 
his cheeks were prominent, and his head was not 
large compared in contrast to every other part of 
his body, which seemed large and bony at all 
points. His finger joints and wrists were so large 
as to be genuine curiosities. 

"As to his habits at that period, I found out 
much that might be interesting. He was an enor- 
mous eater, but was content with bread and 
meat, if he had plenty of it. But hunger seemed 
to put him in a rage." 

This is not a flattering picture, and there are 
some mistakes in it, yet some of the details are 
beyond a doubt quite true. One thing it does not 
record — the phenomenal power he had of awing 
an audience. He could move vast bodies of men 
by his presence alone. People became and re- 
mained grave before him until they awoke, as 
from a trance, and burst into resounding applause. 

Retreating through New Jersey, Washington 
crossed to the western shore of the Delaware 
River near Trenton, and on the night of December 
25, 1776, he made his historic crossing back to the 
eastern shore, to attack Colonel Rail and his force 
of more than a thousand men. 

The night was bitterly cold, with high winds, 


sleet, and snow. Two of the patriot army were 
frozen to death, and many of the muskets were put 
out of action through becoming wet. Washington 
was never nearer despair than at this time. 

^'No man, I believe," he wrote to his brother, 
*'ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less 
means to extricate himself from them. However, 
under a full persuasion of the victory of our cause, 
I cannot entertain an idea that it will finally sink, 
though it may remain for some time under a cloud." 

An engagement took place. The British, or 
rather the Hessians, who were mercenary soldiers 
fighting for them, were taken by surprise, and 
after a brief engagement more than a thousand of 
them were captured. 

The battle of Trenton was one of the most 
dramatic and picturesque of the whole war. It 
was fought at Christmas in the scurry of a frightful 
storm, with the thermometer close to zero. An 
excellent but simple account of it is given in a 
letter to his wife by Colonel Knox: ''About half 
a mile from the town," he wrote, ''was an advance 
guard on each road, consisting of a captain's guard. 
These we forced, and entered the town with them 
pell-mell ; and here succeeded a scene of war which 
I had often conceived, but never saw before. The 
hurry, fright, and confusion of the enemy was not 


unlike that which will be when the last trump shall 
sound. They endeavored to form in the streets, 
the heads of which we had previously the possession 
of with cannon and howitzers. These, in the 
twinkling of an eye, cleared the streets. The backs 
of the houses were resorted to for shelter. These 
proved ineffectual. The musketry soon dislodged 
them. Finally they were driven through the town 
into the open plains beyond.'' 

Washington had made the watchword of the 
day "Victory or death." He observed that while 
in other actions he had seen misbehavior in some 
individuals, at Trenton he had seen none. Not a 
soul was found skulking, but all were fierce for 

They captured six fieldpieces, a thousand fine 
muskets, and fifteen standards. And, strange 
to relate, while hundreds of the enemy had fallen, 
not a single American was killed. 

Thus they replied to the contempt of the Hes- 
sians, for among the American commanders were 
Knox, a Boston bookseller, Nathanael Greene, 
the son of a Quaker blacksmith who followed his 
father's trade, and SterHng, a shopkeeper. An- 
other who distinguished himself by his bravery 
was a young lieutenant, James Monroe, who 
afterwards became fifth President of the United 


States, and author of the famous Monroe Doc- 

Almost immediately after Trenton came the 
battle of Princeton, where again the Americans 
were victorious and left the foe with greater re- 
spect for their powers. 

A few days later the British advanced again. 

"Now is the time to make sure of Washington," 
said a British officer to Lord Cornwallis. 

"Oh, well, the old fox can't escape this time. 
To-morrow morning we'll fall upon him and take 
him and his ragamuffins all at once." 

But in the morning the "old fox" could not be 
found. He took three hundred more prisoners, and 
before going into winter quarters at Morristown, 
he gained possession of most of the enemy's posts 
in New Jersey. Hearing of his success his mother 
said, "Here is too much flattery. Still, George 
will not forget the lessons I taught him. He will 
not forget himself, though he is the subject of so 
much praise." 

Dark Days in Pennsylvania 

By the summer of 1777, the British were again 
active in Canada and Northern New York. There 
was much sympathy with them among many of 
the people who still preferred King George to 
independence, and General Howe issued a proc- 
lamation promising security to all Tories who 
took no further part in the war. 

"For two years have we maintained the war," 
Washington declared, "and struggled with diffi- 
culties innumerable, but the prospect has bright- 
ened. Now is the time to reap the fruit of all our 
toils and dangers. If we behave like men, this 
third campaign will be our last." 

But with eleven thousand men he had to fight 
eighteen thousand British. Such odds were fre- 
quent throughout the war. 

A battle was fought, September 11, 1777, on 
the banks of a creek called the Brandy wine, within 
twenty-six miles of Philadelphia, and the Americans 
were defeated, though not crushed. Indeed, with 



such a difference in numbers and discipline, such 
an outcome was well-nigh inevitable. Wash- 
ington's army withdrew in good order, however, 
ready for further fighting. In fact, the Americans 
so harassed the approach of Cornwallis's army to 
Philadelphia that two weeks passed before the 
victors could enter that city. 

When the news of the conflict at the Brandywine 
reached Philadelphia, many of the Americans fled to 
the mountains, and Congress, which was then in 
session there, moved first to Lancaster and then 
to York. 

The British advanced on the city, with Lord 
Cornwallis at their head, making a picturesque 
scene which Irving has described for us : — 

"Lord Cornwallis marched into Philadelphia on 
the 26th with a brilliant escort, followed by splendid 
legions of British and Hessian grenadiers, long 
trains of artillery and squadrons of light dragoons, 
stepping to the swelling music of 'God save the 
King,' and presenting with their scarlet uniforms, 
their glittering arms and flaunting feathers, strik- 
ing contrast to the weary and wayworn troops 
[the Americans] who had recently poured through 
the same streets, happy if they could cover their 
raggedness with brown linen hunting-frocks, or 
decorate their caps with sprigs of evergreen." 


A boy who saw the British enter Philadelphia 
describes them: ^'I went up to the front rank of 
the grenadiers when they had entered Second 
Street. Several of them addressed me thus: 
'How do you do, young one?' 'How are you, 
my boy ? ' — in a brotherly tone that still seems 
to vibrate in my ear. The Hessians followed in 
the rear of the grenadiers. Their looks to me were 
terrific, — their brass caps, their mustachios, their 
countenances by nature morose, and their music 
that sounded in better English than they themselves 
could speak, 'Plunder! Plunder! Plunder!'" 

The British were clean, healthy, and well-clad, 
very different from Washington's barefooted and 
ragged troops, who had earlier filled the spectators 
with despair. 

Thus the British took possession of the capital of 
the rebellious colonies, so long the object of their 
awkward attempts. Washington maintained his 
characteristic equanimity. 

All through this period Washington's patience 
and magnanimity never failed him. His letters to 
Congress and to individuals were full of the for- 
bearance of nobihty. He was never unfair, never 
unjust, never vindictive. He pleads for his sol- 
diers, and for as much kindness to the enemy as 
possible; he reprobates dishonesty among officers 


and the burning of houses where the good of the 
service is not promoted by it. 

"The burning of houses," he writes, "where the 
apparent good of the service is not promoted by it, 
and the pillaging of them at all times and upon all 
occasions, are to be discountenanced and punished 
with the utmost severity. In short, it is to be 
hoped that men who have property of their own, 
and a regard for the rights of others, will shudder 
at the thought of rendering any man's situation, 
to whose protection he has come, more insufferable 
than his open and avowed enemy would make it ; 
when by duty and every rule of humanity they 
ought to aid and not oppress the distressed in their 
habitations. . . . Men, therefore, who are not 
employed as mere hirelings, but have stepped 
forth in defense of everything that is dear and 
valuable, not only to themselves but to posterity, 
should take pains to conduct themselves with the 
greatest propriety and good order, as their honor 
and reputation call loudly upon them to do it." 
Observe, too, his courtesy to a captive officer : — 
"Far from suffering the views of national opposi- 
tion to be embittered and debased by personal 
animosity, I am ever ready to do justice to the 
merit of the man and soldier, and to esteem where 
esteem is due, however the idea of a public enemy 

Houdon's Statue of Washington 

This shows our great general at the age of fifty-four, dressed in the 
uniform he wore when resigning his commission at Annapolis. This 
statue stands in the State Capitol at Richmond, Virginia. 


may interpose. You will not think it the language 
of unmeaning ceremony if I add that sentiments of 
personal respect, in the present instance, are 

"Viewing you in the light of an officer contending 
against what I conceive to be the rights of my 
country, the reverses of fortune you experienced in 
the field cannot be unacceptable to me; but, 
abstracted from considerations of national ad- 
vantage, I can sincerely sympathize with your 
feeHngs as a soldier, the unavoidable difficulties 
of whose situation forbade his success; and as a 
man whose lot combines the calamity of ill- 
health, the anxieties of captivity, and the painful 
sensibility for a reputation exposed, where he most 
values it, to the assaults of malice and detraction." 

The next battle was fought on October 4, 1777, 
at Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia. It was 
bitterly fought with varying fortune on both 
sides, but eventually the Americans had to retire. 
This was partly due to a dense fog that came up, 
and in the uncertain light the Americans fired 
into their own ranks. Nevertheless, the valor 
shown added much to Washington's renown, and 
Frederick the Great predicted that with such a 
people under such a leader success was sure to 
come. Congress, however, chose General Sullivan 


as a scapegoat, and court-martialed him. At 
once Washington came forward as his defender 
and saved him from undeserved punishment. 
General Sullivan was a man of good education, an 
upright statesman, and a faithful and intelligent 
soldier, though in none of these spheres was he a 
really commanding figure. 

Less than a month after the battle of the Brandy- 
wine, the Americans were cheered and encouraged 
by the news of Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga. 

In this conflict General Gates won his greatest 
laurels, though the victory was far from being 
wholly his own. For Philip Schuyler prepared 
this victory, Daniel Morgan and Benedict Arnold 
did the fighting, while Gates reaped the reward. 
General Horatio Gates was an EngHshman, a 
godson of the famous Horace Walpole, and served 
in the British army, coming to America in time to 
share in the defeat of Braddock. 

Gates was twice in command of the Northern 
division of the American army, and had hosts of 
friends who claimed that he should be commander 
in chief. But he was false, hypocritical, and 
constantly intriguing against Washington, though 
protesting his regard for him. In August, 1780, 
Lord Cornwallis put him to rout at Camden, 
South Carolina, and that disaster led to his dis- 


grace, while Washington, steadfast and modest, 
pursued his way unscathed. 

How magnanimous Washington was toward 
him is shown by the following letter which he 
wrote to the President of Congress : — 

''I discovered very early in the war symptoms 
of coldness and constraint in General Gates's be- 
havior to me. These increased as he rose into 
greater consequence; but we did not come to a 
direct breach till the beginning of last year. This 
was occasioned by a correspondence, which I 
thought made rather free with me, between 
Generals Gates and Conway, which accidentally 
came to my knowledge. 

"... After this affair subsided, I made a 
point of treating General Gates with all the atten- 
tion and cordiaHty in my power, as well from a 
sincere desire of harmony as from an unwillingness 
to give any cause of triumph to our enemies, from 
an appearance of dissension among ourselves. I 
can appeal to the whole army and to the world, 
whether I have not cautiously avoided every word 
or hint that could tend to disparage General Gates 
in any way. I am sorry his conduct to me has 
not been equally generous, and that he is continu- 
ally giving me fresh proofs of malevolence and oppo- 
sition. It will not be doing him injustice to say 


that, besides the little, underhand intrigues which he 
is frequently practising, there has hardly been any 
great military question in which his advice has 
been asked that it has not been given in an equivo- 
cal and designing manner, apparently calculated 
to afford him an opportunity of censuring me on 
the failure of whatever measure might be adopted. 

''When I find that this gentleman does not 
scruple to take the most unfair advantages of me, I 
am under a necessity of explaining his conduct to 
justify my own. This, and the perfect confidence 
I have in you, have occasioned me to trouble you 
with so free a communication of the state of things 
between us. I shall still be as passive as a regard 
to my own character will permit." 

Besides General Gates and General Lee, Wash- 
ington had a bitter enemy in General Thomas 
Conway, an Irishman who had served many 
years in the French army. Though the three 
plotted long and secretly, their conspiracy was 
foiled by Washington's evident honesty and sin- 
cerity ; and the " Conway Cabal," as it was known, 
dissolved in deep disgrace. 

Meanwhile the British held Philadelphia, and 
devoted themselves to pleasure — balls, theatrical 
performances, concerts and luxuries of all kinds. 
For the next six months the war stood still, and 


there was much complaint in England against the 
slothfulness of her soldiers. ''We are often told 
that Mr. Washington's army is inferior in num- 
bers to the British," a London newspaper said, 
" — sickly, ill-clothed, dying, dispirited, and by no 
means as well armed as our own troops. Why have 
not the valiant, highly-disciplined and well-ap- 
pointed royal veterans swept such a rabble off the 
face of the universe?" 

That winter at Valley Forge was full of pains, 
sorrows, and discouragements for the intrenched 
Americans. They were beset by hunger and 
nakedness. On the 20th of December a large 
number of them were without meat and had been 
three whole days without bread. Evening after 
evening the cry of " No meat ! No meat!" could 
be heard along the line of the rude huts which had 
been built for their shelter. 

General Anthony Wayne reported that after 
spending his private money on suppHes, one 
third of his men had "no shirt under Heaven," 
and that their outer garments hung from them in 
ribbons. And as their shoeless feet bled and left 
crimson trails in the snow, Washington's heart 
bled for them, as his appeal for succor for them met 
with no response from Congress. 


The hospitals were full and like dungeons. Four 
or five patients were known to die on the same 
bed of straw before it was changed. Dysentery 
and smallpox prevailed. An old man with whom 
Washington lodged one day found the general in a 
thicket by the roadside, on his knees in prayer, 
with tears running down his cheeks. On returning 
home he told his wife that the nation would surely 
survive its trouble, because, if there was any one 
on earth the Lord would listen to, it was George 

And the poor soldier ate his bad food with 
seeming control, and labored barefoot through 
the mud and cold, with his shirt hanging about 
him in strings, and a song in his mouth extolling 
his chief. 

On February i6, 1778, Washington wrote to 
Governor George Clinton: ''For some days past 
there has been little less than a famine in the camp. 
A part of the army has been a week without any 
kind of flesh, and the rest three or four days. 
Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough 
admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of 
the soldiery, that they have not been ere this 
excited by their suffering to a general mutiny and 
dispersion. Strong symptoms, however, of discon- 
tent have appeared in particular instances, and 


nothing but the most active efforts everywhere 
can long avert so shocking a catas trophy." 

There may be seen at Valley Forge to-day a beau- 
tiful Arch of Triumph for which Congress, in 19 10, 
appropriated $100,000. On one side is inscribed, 

^'To the Ofhcers and Private Soldiers of the 
Continental Army, Dec. 19, 1777- June 19, 1778.'' 

On the other side are these words, taken from 
Washington's letter just quoted, 

^' Naked and starving as they are, we cannot 
enough admire the incomparable patience and 
fidelity of the soldiery." 

The conditions rapidly improved in the spring, 
and before summer the men were well nourished 
and properly clothed. 

At this critical juncture, France came to the 
support of the Americans. A treaty was made 
between the two countries that, should war ensue 
between France and England, it should be made a 
common cause by the contracting parties, and that 
neither should make truce with the enemy except 
by joint consent, nor until the independence of the 
United States was established. 

"An Ocean of Difficulties" 

On June 28, 1778, was fought what is known as 
the battle of Monmouth, at Freehold, New Jersey. 
In spite of disobedience and treachery on the part 
of one of his generals, this was to prove a victory 
for Washington. The command of the advance 
force was offered to General Charles Lee, who at 
first refused it but presently changed his mind. He 
brought his troops face to face with the British, 
and then, without orders, beat a shameful retreat. 
Thus Washington found him. 

''What is the meaning of all this, sir?" he de- 

Lee hesitated. 

''I desire to know the meaning of this disorder 
and confusion," Washington insisted. 

Lee made an angry reply. His troops, he said, 
had been thrown into confusion by contradictory 
intelligence and by disobedience of orders, and he 
had not felt disposed to beard the whole British 
army under such conditions. 



"It is not the whole British army, merely a 
strong covering party." 

"A stronger party than mine," Lee replied. "I 
did not think it proper to run the risk." 

"You ought not to have taken command unless 
you meant to fight the enemy, " Washington sternly 
rejoined, and then prepared to retrieve as best he 
could the fortunes of the day. 

Despite Lee's disobedience and the confusion it 
involved, the Americans proved the victors, for 
the British were compelled to withdraw. The 
day was intensely hot and many on both sides 
succumbed to the heat. 

The disobedient general, Charles Lee, was a 
remarkable character. He was the son of a British 
military officer, and is said to have held a commis- 
sion when he was eleven years old. He was with 
Washington at the defeat of Braddock, and later 
served in the armies of Poland and Portugal. 
He was restless, impetuous, and boastful, and the 
Mohawks who adopted him as a natural son gave 
him the name of "Boiling Water," which described 
him very well. 

When the Revolution broke out he abandoned 
England, and took sides with the colonists, having 
an eye to the better prospects that service in their 
cause offered. He insisted that Congress should 


pay him thirty thousand dollars as an indemnity 
against the probable confiscation of his estates 
in England, and throughout his whole career he 
was vain and selfish, though not by any means 

When in June, 1776, the British were about to 
attack Fort Sullivan in the harbor of Charleston, 
Lee, who had been sent to take command of troops 
there, went to the fort, and after a brief inspection 
declared that it would be impossible to hold it and 
that it was a ''slaughter pen." He wanted to 
withdraw the garrison without striking a blow; 
but while he was preparing to retreat, the gov- 
ernor of the state gave command to Colonel 
Moultrie, who won the day and thus saved the 
fort, the city, and the state from the hands of 
the enemy. 

Lee's professions of attachment to the cause of 
independence were insincere. He was at heart a 
traitor, yet he succeeded in beguiling many people 
by his dash and his persuasive talk. He was a 
good letter-writer and claimed, probably without 
truth, to be the author of those famous "Letters 
of Junius," the source of which continues to be 
one of the mysteries of literature. Some of the 
ablest letters he wrote were against Washington, 
whose high place he always coveted. All his 


plotting was ended by that court-martial which he 
himself sought after the battle of Monmouth 
and which led to his retirement. 

Even while he was disobedient, quarrelsome, and 
inefficient, the Americans did not lose faith in 
him nor suspect that in his movements during the 
flight of the army under Washington from the 
Hudson to the Delaware, and in his movements 
at the battle of Monmouth, he was seeking to 
betray them. But such was the case. Eighty 
years after his death, letters were found which 
proved his treachery. 

A fleet had arrived from France, much battered 
after a tempestuous voyage, and Washington was 
ordered to support it in offensive measures by sea 
and land. He was to retake Rhode Island, then 
in possession of the British, but the movement 
failed through a complication of troubles. There 
were also troubles from the Indians, and soon the 
country was horrified by the massacre in the Wyo- 
ming Valley of Pennsylvania. 

Washington was ceaseless in his activities. 
There was no relaxation of his anxieties and en- 
deavors. He knew that there was no prospect of 
the immediate ending of the war, though many 
persons thought that England, menaced by enemies 
at home, would reduce her forces here. America, 


Washington declared, had never stood in more 
imminent need of the wise, patriotic, and spirited 
exertions of her sons than at this period. He rec- 
ommended a defensive policy instead of an offen- 
sive one, and in the long run his advice, as usual, 
proved its wisdom. 

The new-born nation, if it could be called a 
nation, was poverty-stricken and nearly exhausted 
through lack of money. It had little but paper 
money, which was worth but a fraction of its face 
value. Some of the food for the army had to be 
taken from the people whether they were wiUing 
to sell or not, and Washington charged his officers 
to act with as much consideration as possible, 
graduating the exaction according to the stock of 
each individual. Winter was again upon him, 
moreover, and it was the coldest winter ever 
known. The great bay of New York was frozen 
over. Homes were torn down to make firewood. 
Food was almost unprocurable. Again his troops 
were half fed and half clothed. One silver dollar 
was worth seventy-five dollars in bills. 

A mean contractor tried to take advantage of 
the soldiers by postponing the delivery of meat he 
had agreed to provide, giving them instead certifi- 
cates that so many pounds were due them, and 
hoping that the future would enable him to make 


good the deficiency at lower prices. Washington 
heard of this, and ordered his arrest. 

''How shall the prisoner be fed, sir?" a quarter- 
master inquired. 

"Give yourself no trouble," Washington re- 
plied. "He shall be fed from my table." 

Shortly afterwards a waiter in the livery of the 
general was seen bearing upon a salver most of 
the requisites of a meal — knives, forks, spoons, 
and plate. The prisoner was flattered by the 
apparent attention, but when he removed the 
cover he found, instead of food, a certificate that 
he was entitled to a meal ! 

Washington then summoned him to his presence, 
and said to him, "Now, sir, you see how little the 
cravings of hunger can be satisfied by a mere 
certificate. I trust that you will profit by this 

The conflict at Monmouth Court House was 
Washington's last battle before the final victory 
at Yorktown, and the main activities of the two 
armies in the last years of the war were in the South. 
Conflicts were to take place at Savannah, Charles- 
ton, Camden, King's Mountain, the Cowpens, 
and Eutaw Springs in South Carolina, and Guil- 
ford Court-house in North Carolina, before Wash- 
ington made his brilliant march to Yorktown 


and gained the victory which virtually ended the 

At one time several British vessels lay off Mount 
Vernon, and fearing an attack, Washington's 
overseer endeavored to prevent this by taking food 
to them. Washington disapproved of this and 
wrote to the overseer as follows : — 

"I am very sorry to hear of your loss; I am a 
little sorry to hear of my own; but that which 
gives me most concern is that you should go on 
board an enemy's vessel and furnish them with 
refreshments: It would have been a less painful 
circumstance to me to have heard that, in conse- 
quence of your non-compliance with their request, 
they had burnt my house and laid the plantation 
in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself 
as my representative, and should have reflected 
on the bad example of communicating with the 
enemy, and making a voluntary offer of refresh- 
ments to them with a view to prevent a conflagra- 
tion. It was not in your power, I acknowledge, 
to prevent them from sending a flag on shore, and 
you did right to meet it; but you should, in the 
same instant that the business of it was unfolded, 
have declared explicitly that it was improper for 
you to yield to their request ; after which, if they 
had proceeded to help themselves by force, you 


could but have submitted ; and being unprovided 
for defense, this was to be preferred to a feeble 
opposition, which only served as a pretext to burn 
and destroy." 

With all his gravity through these anxious and 
distressing times, Washington has some playful 
moods. Let us then quote from another letter of 
his inviting a friend, Dr. Cochran, to dinner in 

"I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston 
to dine with me to-morrow, but am I not in honor 
bound to apprize them of their fare? As I hate 
deception, even where the imagination only is con- 
cerned, I will. It is needless to premise that my 
table is large enough to hold the ladies. Of this 
they had ocular proof yesterday. To say how it is 
usually covered is rather more essential, and this 
shall be the purport of my letter. 

''Since our arrival at this happy spot, we have 
had a ham, sometimes a shoulder of bacon, to 
grace the head of the table ; a piece of roast beef 
adorns the foot, and a dish of beans or greens, al- 
most imperceptible, decorates the center. When 
the cook has a mind to cut a figure, which I pre- 
sume will be the case to-morrow, we have two 
beefsteak pies, or dishes of crab, dividing the 
space and reducing the distance between dish and 


dish, to about six feet, which without them would 
be nearly twelve feet apart. Of late he has had 
the surprising sagacity to discover that apples 
will make pies, and it is a question if, in the vio- 
lence of his efforts, we do not get one of the apples 
instead of having both the beefsteaks. If the 
ladies can put up with such entertainment, and 
will submit to partake of it on plates once tin but 
now iron (not become so by the labor of scouring) 
I shall be happy to see them." 

Jocularly as he writes of it, such a meal was 
a feast to him and far beyond what he usually 
received. He wanted nothing more than his 
soldiers got. He sympathized with the meanest 
of them. His heart toward them was a fountain 
of justice and kindness. 

The End of the War 

The British army was now divided into two 
parts, one in New York and the other, under 
Lord Cornwallis, in the South. Washington de- 
cided to unite his own armies, and completely to 
crush Cornwallis. It was necessary for this that 
Sir Henry Clinton, the general in charge of the 
British forces in New York, should be kept in 
ignorance of Washington's intentions and be led 
to suppose that he was in danger of attack. Fic- 
titious letters were allowed to reach him describ- 
ing movements which Washington was supposed 
to contemplate, and while his antagonist was thus 
deceived, Washington, leaving but a few of his 
men at White Plains, hurried into Virginia, where 
at Mount Vernon he was joined by Count Rocham- 
beau. Lord CornwalHs was then at York town, and 
it was Washington's aim to capture him before he 
could be reinforced by Clinton. 

This was to be the decisive battle of the war, 
H 97 


and Washington himself put the match to the first 
gun that was fired. 

Cornwallis was surprised by the appearance of 
the fleet of the French Count de Grasse within 
the capes of the Delaware, and his retreat was cut 
off in every direction, though he had fortified the 
town. That night Washington slept on the 
ground without covering, and with the root of a 
mulberry tree for a pillow. The next day the two 
armies confronted each other. 

Cornwallis received dispatches from Sir Henry 
Clinton, informing him that a fleet of twenty- 
three ships, with about five thousand troops, 
would sail to his assistance at once. Then he 
abandoned his outworks and withdrew his forces 
within the town. This move proved a mistake, 
for the next morning the outworks were taken by 
the Americans. Before the fleet arrived, however, 
the battle had begun. The cannonade was kept 
up almost incessantly for three or four days. The 
enemy suffered severely ; guns were dismounted or 
silenced and many were killed. Four of their ships 
were set on fire. But in turn the British harassed 
the Americans and opened a galKng fire upon them. 

Washington watched the progress of the battle 
from an exposed position, and one of his aides 
called his attention to his peril. 


*'If you think the position is dangerous," he 
said quietly and without moving, ''you are at 
liberty to step back." 

Soon afterwards a musket-ball fell at his feet. 
General Knox grasped his arm, exclaiming, "My 
dear general, we can't afford to spare you yet 1" 

''It is a spent ball and no harm is done," Wash- 
ington replied calmly. 

Washington indeed was always calm, and never 
took thought of the value of his own life. Where 
others grew excited, he was unmoved. Fear never 
entered his great soul. In the presence of danger 
he was a man of iron. 

The position of the enemy became impossible, 
and Cornwallis attempted an escape. His plan 
was to cross the river in the night and, turning 
northward, to rejoin Sir Henry Clinton in New 
York by forced marches. But a violent storm in- 
terfered with his project, and he sent a letter to 
Washington proposing an armistice, which ended 
in his surrender. 

The prisoners numbered more than seven thou- 
sand. The cry of victory spread from the camp 
to the nation, and the news, " Cornwallis is taken ! " 
echoed and reechoed throughout the land. When 
the British prime minister. Lord North, heard it, 
he received it as if it were "a ball in his heart." 


But while it produced consternation in England, 
our whole country gave itself up to transports of 

There was still much discontent in the Ameri- 
can army, however. Neither men nor officers had 
received their pay, and many of them were still 
badly provided for. A lady has described the 
difference she saw between the Americans and the 
British, as the former entered New York and the 
latter were leaving. 

''We had been accustomed for a long time to 
military display in all the finish and finery of garri- 
son Hf e ; the troops just leaving were equipped as 
if for show, and with their scarlet uniforms and 
burnished arms made a brilKant display; the 
troops that marched in, on the contrary, were ill- 
clad, and weather-beaten, and made a forlorn ap- 
pearance ; but then they were our troops, and as 
I looked at them, and thought of all they had done 
and suffered for us, my heart and my eyes were 
full, and I admired and gloried in them the more, 
because they were weather-beaten and forlorn." 

So great was the discontent and dissatisfaction 
with the government at this time that one officer, 
a friend of Washington, who may have been the 
mouthpiece of others, boldly suggested to him 
that the government should be changed to a 


monarchy, and that he should be king ; but George 
Washington had no ambition to make himself para- 
mount at the cost of others — no ambition but to 
see his country free and prosperous. 

"With a mixture of great surprise and astonish- 
ment, I have read the sentiments you have sub- 
mitted to my perusal!" he said. "Be assured, 
sir, no occurrence in the course of the war has 
given me more painful sensations than your infor- 
mation of there being such ideas existing in the army 
as you have expressed, and I must view them with 
abhorrence and reprehend them with severity. For 
the present, the communication of them will rest in 
my own bosom, unless some further agitation of 
the matter shall make a disclosure necessary. I 
am much at a loss to conceive what part of my 
conduct could have given encouragement to an 
address, which, to me, seems big with the greatest 
mischief which can befall my country. If I am 
not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could 
not have found a person to whom your schemes 
are more disagreeable. At the same time, in jus- 
tice to my own feelings, I must add that no man 
possesses a more sincere wish to see justice done 
to the army than I do ; and as far as my powers 
and influence in a constitutional way extend, they 
shall be employed to the utmost of my abiHties to 


effect it, should there be occasion. Let me conjure 
you, then, if you have any regard for your coun- 
try, concern for yourself, or for posterity, or respect 
for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, 
and never communicate, as from yourself or any- 
one else, a sentiment of a like nature." 

More sedition appeared at Newburgh on the 
Hudson, where a notice was issued calling a meet- 
ing of the officers to consider what could be done 
for the rehef of the army. It threatened to compel 
Congress to attend to their demands, and might 
have led to another revolution. But Washington 
addressed them and won them over to peaceful 
measures. Not being a ready speaker, he read 
from notes what he had to say, and at the end of 
the first sentence said, as he put on his spectacles, 
''Gentlemen, you will pardon me for putting on 
my glasses. I have grown gray in your service 
and now feel myself growing blind." 

The pathos of that at once touched them, and 
they gave an attentive ear to all that followed. 

''If my conduct heretofore has not indicated to 
you that I have been a faithful friend to the army, 
my declaration of it at this time would be equally 
unavailing and improper. But as I was one of the 
first who embarked in the cause of our common 
country ; as I have never left your side one moment, 


save when called from you on public duty; as I 
have been the constant companion and witness of 
your distress, and not among the last to feel and 
to acknowledge your merit ; as I have considered 
my own military reputation as inseparably con- 
nected with that of the army; as my heart has 
ever expanded with joy when I have heard its 
praises, and my indignation has risen when the 
mouth of detraction has been opened against it, 
it can scarcely be supposed, at this stage of the 
war, that I am indifferent to its interests." 

What wonderful words these are, coming from 
a man who had so few educational opportunities in 
his youth ! They are so correct and yet so full of 
feeling, so sincere and so well-balanced that they 
would do credit to a scholar. Indeed, hundreds 
of scholars never learn to write so well. It is evi- 
dent that he profited by reading the masters of 
English prose, whose works, including ^'The Spec- 
tator," Lord Fairfax lent him in his youth. Lord 
Fairfax was a man of fine literary taste, and had 
himself been, it is said, a contributor to ''The 
Spectator," and had numbered among his friends 
the great authors, Addison and Steele. 

The army was reconciled and remained loyal to 
the government. But Washington saw that some 
changes were necessary. He saw that thirteen 


independent states, under thirteen independent 
governments, would not work smoothly together, 
and he proposed an indissoluble union of the states 
under one head, the payment of all debts contracted 
by the country during the war, and the establish- 
ment of a uniform militia system. As we know, 
his advice was taken. 

At last the patriot army was disbanded, and 
before his departure for Philadelphia, Washing- 
ton took touching leave of his officers at Fraunces 
Tavern, which still stands in Broad Street, New 
York. As he said ^'good-by" to them he could 
scarcely control his voice. "I cannot come to 
each of you to take my leave," he said, *'but shall 
be obliged if each of you will come and take me 
by the hand. With a heart full of love and grati- 
tude I now take leave of you, most devoutly wish- 
ing that your latter days may be as prosperous and 
happy as your former ones have been glorious and 
honorable. '^ 

Tears were in his eyes. "The deep feeling and 
manly tenderness of those veterans in the parting 
moment could find no utterance in words,'' says 
Washington Irving. "Silent and solemn they 
followed their loved commander as he left the 
room, passed through a corps of light infantry, 
and proceeded on foot to Whitehall Ferry. Hav- 

Fraunces Tavern 

This famous old building, in which Washington took leave of his gen- 
erals on December 4, 1783, is still standing, as shown. It contains many 
valuable Revolutionary relics, open to public inspection every week-day. 


ing entered the barge, he turned to them, took off 
his hat, and waved a silent adieu. They replied in 
the same manner, and having watched the barge 
until the intervening point of the Battery shut it 
from sight, returned, still solemn and silent, to 
the place where they had assembled." 

The war had lasted eight years to a day. 

While the capital was then at Annapolis, the 
Treasury Department was in Philadelphia, and 
there Washington presented his accounts. These 
were all in his own handwriting, and all exact. 
He had refused pay for himself, and had not 
charged for some of the money he had spent. 

His progress in the direction of Annapolis was a 
succession of welcomes. Everywhere he was hailed 
with enthusiasm and greeted with addresses by 
legislative assemblies and learned and religious 
societies. ^'He accepted them all with that 
modesty inherent in his nature, little thinking that 
his present popularity was but the early outbreak- 
ing of a fame that was to go on widening and 
deepening from generation to generation, and ex- 
tending over the whole civilized world." 

Arrived at Annapolis, he sent a letter to the 
President of Congress asking whether it would be 
most proper for him to present his resignation in 
writing or orally, and the latter mode was chosen. 


The hall was crowded with pubHc functionaries, 
the military, and ladies, all in a state of subdued 
awe and excitement. 

*'The great events on which my resignation 
depended having at length taken place, I now have 
the honor of offering my sincere congratulations 
to Congress," said Washington, ''and of present- 
ing myself before them, to surrender into their 
hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the 
indulgence of retiring from the service of my 

^'I consider it an indispensable duty to close this 
last solemn act of my official life, by commending 
the interests of our dearest country to the protec- 
tion of Almighty God, and those who have the 
superintendence of them, to His holy keeping. 
Having now finished the work assigned to me, I 
retire from the great theater of action, and bid- 
ding an affectionate farewell to this august body, 
under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer 
my commission, and take my leave of all the 
employments of public life." 

One who was present says, "Few tragedies ever 
drew so many tears from so many beautiful eyes, 
as the moving manner in which his Excellency 
took his final leave of Congress." 

In accepting the commission, the President of 


Congress declared to Washington, "You retire 
from the theater of action with the blessings of 
your fellow-citizens, but the glory of your virtues 
will not terminate with your military command; 
it will continue to animate remotest ages." 

The next morning, which was Christmas Day, 
Washington went home to Mount Vernon. 

"The scene is at last closed," he said. "I feel 
myself eased of a load of public cares. I hope to 
spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the 
affections of good men, and in the practice of the 
domestic virtues." 


Arnold and Andre 

Benedict Arnold was one of the most coura- 
geous and brilliant generals of the army. He served 
in the Ticonderoga expedition, and marched 
through the wilderness to Canada, overcoming great 
difficulties and earning Washington's heartiest ap- 
proval. In his attack on Quebec he led his troops 
up the crags once scaled by General Wolfe, and 
planted his flag on the famed Heights of Abraham. 
He was in favor of an immediate dash on the city, 
but his associates discouraged him, and while 
they delayed, the small garrison within the walls 
was aroused. 

TTie cry arose, ''The enemy is on the Heights of 
Abraham ! The gate of St. John is open !" 

Arnold took his men within a hundred yards of 
the wall, and sent a flag demanding, in the name 
of the United Colonies, an immediate surrender. 
He was not strong enough to force what he de- 
manded, however. Washington wrote to him, 
paraphrasing a couplet in "Cato" by Addison, 



"It is not in the pow€r of man to command suc- 
cess, but you have done more, you have deserved 
it." General Montgomery also praised him. 
"Arnold is active, intelHgent, and enterprising," he 

Montgomery came to his help, and together 
they attacked the city. Montgomery was killed 
and Arnold wounded. 

"Defeated and wounded as he was," says a 
contemporary writer, "he put his troops into such 
a situation as to keep them still formidable. 
With a mere handful of men, at one time not 
exceeding five hundred, he maintained a blockade 
of the strong fortress from which he had just been 

"I am in the way of my duty, and I know no 
fear," he declared. 

"Happy for him had he fallen at this moment," 
Irving wrote. "Happy for him had he found a 
soldier's and a patriot's grave beneath the rock- 
built walls of Quebec. Those walls would have 
remained enduring monuments of his renown. 
His name, like that of Montgomery, would have 
been treasured up among the dearest recollections 
of his country, and that country would have been 
spared the traitorous blot that dims the bright 
page of its revolutionary history." 


Arnold was no less distinguished for his valor 
than for his strategy. He won more laurels at 
Lake Champlain and everywhere proved his 

*' I need not enlarge upon his well-known activity, 
conduct, and bravery," said Washington when 
writing of Arnold. ''The proofs he has given of all 
these have gained him the confidence of the public 
and of the army, the Eastern troops in particular.'' 

In 1777, five of his inferiors in rank were pro- 
moted over his head to be major-generals, and he 
felt the reflection on his character keenly, though 
he allowed himself to be induced by Washington 
to retain his position in the army. At Saratoga he 
was again severely wounded. He himself said, 
"No public or private injury shall prevail on me 
to forsake the cause of my injured and oppressed 
country, until I see peace and liberty restored to 
her, or nobly die in the attempt." 

Through his temper, which was violent, he 
made many enemies, however, and he never forgot 
the insult put upon him by the promotion of his 

He married Miss Margaret Shippen, of Phila- 
delphia, and it was at her father's house that he 
probably met a young British officer. Major John 
Andre, of whom we shall hear more. 


Arnold's conduct in the management of affairs 
while he was in command in Philadelphia caused 
much public dissatisfaction, and he himself re- 
quested Congress to direct a court-martial to in- 
vestigate. He was acquitted, but Congress soon 
reopened the matter under two charges, and he was 
ordered to be reprimanded by the commander in 

This delicate duty Washington would probably 
have evaded had it been possible to do so without 
disobedience to superior authority, but he did it 
with the utmost delicacy. 

His words are: — 

*'Our profession is the chastest of all: even the 
shadow of a fault tarnishes the luster of our finest 
achievements. The least inadvertence may rob 
us of the public favor, so hard to be acquired. I 
reprehend you for having forgotten, that, in pro- 
portion as you had rendered yourself formidable 
to our enemies, you should have been guarded 
and temperate in your deportment towards your 
fellow-citizens. Exhibit anew those noble quali- 
ties which have placed you on the list of our most 
valued commanders. I will myself furnish you, 
so far as it may be within my power, with oppor- 
tunities for regaining the esteem of your country." 

Arnold continued to feel that his sentence was 


unmerited, and undoubtedly nursed his grievances 
more than a better-balanced man would have. 
Many persons are of the opinion that he was 
treated with animosity instead of fairness. 

True to his word, Washington soon gave him 
an opportunity to recover public confidence by 
appointing him to command of the fortress of 
West Point and all the posts from Fishkill to 
King's Ferry, and nothing could have better 
shown Washington's own faith in him than this. 

But he was disaffected. When the idea of 
treason first entered his mind we do not know. 
It probably grew like a worm in the bud, flashing 
upon him at secret intervals, at first with fear and 
shame, a thing so horrible to himself that he en- 
deavored to shut it from him and discard it, then 
reasserting itself until at last it became famihar, 
reasonable, and endurable. 

Andre became his chief instrument, and such 
treachery as he contemplated must have been a 
shock to both of them, and reduced their once 
open communications to stealthy whisperings in 
solitary places. 

Andre's own principles must have revolted, for 
he was not only a man of intelHgence and grace, 
but hitherto a man of honor. He was an officer 
of the Royal Fusileers, and had become aid-de- 


camp successively to General Grey and to Sir 
Henry Clinton, with the rank of major. He was 
only twenty- three years old. His varied talents 
and engaging manners made him very popular, 
and he had many accomplishments. He was 
manager, actor, and scene-painter in those amateur 
theatricals in which the British officers delighted, 
and was a writer of amusing rhymes. 

What Arnold proposed was the delivery of West 
Point, where he was stationed, to the British. He 
opened a correspondence with Sir Henry CHnton 
in a disguised handwriting, representing himself as 
a person of importance in the American army, 
who wished to join the cause of England if he 
could be assured of personal security and in- 
demnity for whatever loss in property he might 
suffer. A British fleet under Admiral Rodney 
was to go up the Hudson to the Highlands at 
West Point, which would be surrendered by 
Arnold without opposition under the pretext that 
he had not a sufficient force to make resistance, 
and it was calculated that the immediate result 
would be the collapse of the American plans. 

Arnold met Andre for a conference at mid- 
night at the foot of a lonely and shadowy moun- 
tain called Long Clove, and the conference was 
carried on in darkness among the trees. They 


talked in hushed and nervous voices, afraid of 
interruption, each alert for every sound. Morn- 
ing came before they had finished, and then 
Andre, in possession of the plans of West Point, 
was persuaded by Arnold to return to New York 
by land instead of by water, though the ship Vulture 
was close at hand to receive him. 

Arnold gave him a pass which read, *' Permit 
Mr. John Anderson [the name which Andre had 
chosen] to pass the guards to White Plains, or 
below, if he desires, he being on public business 
by my direction." 

Arnold left him at ten o^clock in the morning, 
and Andre passed a long day, attended by one 
Smith, who had come with Arnold. He glanced 
at the Vulture and wished himself on board, for 
once there he would be safe. 

At about sunset Andre and Smith crossed the 
river from King's Ferry to Verplanck's Point, and 
between eight and nine o'clock they were stopped 
by a patrolKng party. Arnold's pass protected 
them, though the man in charge was suspicious. 
A farmhouse was pointed out to them, at which 
they spent an uneasy night, and the next day 
they separated, Smith returning home and Andre 
going toward New York. He had not gone far 
when a man stepped out from some trees and 


leveled a musket at him, bringing him to a stand, 
while two other men, also armed, appeared im- 
mediately afterwards. The first man wore a 
Hessian coat — the uniform of the German allies 
of the English — and Andre rejoiced in suppos- 
ing himself among friends. 

He exclaimed eagerly, "Gentlemen, I hope you 
belong to our party." 

"What party?" they asked. 

"The British," he said incautiously. 

"We do," was the reply. 

So, full of confidence, Andre admitted himself 
to be an English officer, and declared that he must 
not be delayed a moment, for he had to reach the 
British headquarters as soon as possible. 

Suddenly the supposed Hessian turned upon 
him and said, "You are our prisoner. We are 

The speaker was a young patriot, John Paulding, 
who had twice been captured by the British and 
twice shut up in their prisons. The Hessian coat, 
which had deceived Andre and been the cause of 
his betrayal, had been given to him by one of his 
captors in exchange for a better garment. 

Andre was full of surprise and consternation at 
the turn of events, but he was a man of resource, 
and laughed in Paulding's face. 


"Why," he declared, ''I am joking. I am not 
English, but an American going down to Dobbs 
Ferry to get information from below. See !" 

And he produced Arnold's pass. 

They read it and at first were half induced to 
believe him, but Paulding insisted on searching 
him. One after another his garments were re- 
moved, without revealing anything incriminating, 
when Paulding, more suspicious than the others, 
exclaimed, *'Boys, I am not satisfied. His boots 
must come off." 

And then the hidden documents were dis- 
covered 1 

Andre made offer after offer to buy his freedom. 

"I will give you a hundred guineas," he said. 

"No," they repHed. 

"I will give you a hundred guineas, and my 
horse, saddle, and bridle." 


"I will give you anything you ask!" he con- 
tinued desperately. 

At this point Paulding cried out, "No, no, no! 
Not if you gave us ten thousand guineas 1" 

The papers found on Andre were sent to Wash- 
ington, accompanied by a dignified letter in which 
he said, "The request I have made to your Excel- 
lency, and I am conscious I address myself well, 


is that in any rigor policy may dictate, a decency 
of conduct towards me may mark that, though 
unfortunate, I am branded with nothing dis- 
honorable, as no motive could be mine but the 
service of my King." 

The British, of course, made every effort in 
behalf of Andre, but Washington was obdurate 
and would entertain no thought of his pardon. 
On one condition only would he release him, and 
that was that Arnold should be exchanged for him. 
This the British refused to do, and Andre was exe- 
cuted at Tappan, whence in 182 1 his remains were 
taken to Westminster Abbey, where they now lie. 

On the very day the treasonable conference 
between Arnold and Andre took place, Washing- 
ton left Hartford for his headquarters on the 
Hudson, sending in advance a letter to Arnold, 
saying that he would breakfast with him. 

He delayed on the way, and when the Marquis 
Lafayette called his attention to the fact that he 
would be late for breakfast, he said, "You young 
men are all in love with Mrs. Arnold. I see you 
are eager to be with her as soon as possible. Go 
you, then, and breakfast with her, and tell her 
not to wait for me. I must ride down and examine 
the redoubts on this side of the river, and will be 
with her shortly." 


But Lafayette and General Knox remained with 
Washington. The news of their movements 
reached Arnold before they appeared, and while 
he and his wife sat at breakfast, a messenger came 
with a letter announcing Andre's arrest. Arnold 
was panic-stricken, and taking his wife aside and 
confessing his treason to her, hastened to a barge 
and fled down the river. 

When Washington heard of all that had happened, 
he said sadly, as he told Lafayette and General 
Knox of it, "Whom can we trust now?'' 

An effort was made to intercept Arnold in his 
flight, but he succeeded in getting safely on board 
the British ship Vulture. 

Soon afterwards Washington received a letter 
from Arnold in which the traitor tried to justify 
himself. "The heart which is conscious of its 
own rectitude," he wrote, "cannot attempt to 
palliate a step which the world may censure as 
wrong ; I have ever acted from a principle of love 
to my country, since the commencement of the 
present unhappy contest between Great Britain 
and the colonies; the same principle of love to 
my country actuates my present conduct, how- 
ever it may appear inconsistent to the world, who 
seldom judge right of any man's action. I ask 
no favor for myself. I have too often experienced 


the ingratitude of my country to attempt it, but, 
from the known humanity of your Excellency, I 
am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold 
from every insult and injury that a mistaken 
vengeance by my country may expose her to. 
It ought to fall only on me; she is as good and 
as innocent as an angel, and is incapable of doing 

Washington sympathized with this letter, and 
writing to Mrs. Arnold he informed her that while 
he had done all he could to arrest her husband, 
he had some pleasure in assuring her that the cul- 
prit had escaped. 

Washington was not satisfied with letting Arnold 
escape with no other punishment than that in- 
flicted by his own conscience. He discovered where 
the traitor was living, and formed a plan to cap- 
ture him and bring him back to the American camp. 

Sending for ''Light Horse Harry" Lee, Washing- 
ton said, "1 have sent for you, Major Lee, in the 
expectation that you have in your corps individuals 
capable and willing to undertake a hazardous proj- 
ect. Whoever comes foward on this occasion will 
place me under great obligations personally, and 
in behalf of the United States I will reward him 
amply. No time is to be lost. He must proceed 


Washington explained that Arnold was quartered 
next door to Sir Henry Clinton, the British general, 
at what was until recently No. 3 Broadway, and 
that he moved about the city carelessly, so that 
with some daring he might be seized and carried 
back within the American lines. To achieve his 
purpose it would be necessary for the man who 
attempted it to take the part of a deserter from 
the American army. 

^Xight Horse Harry" knew the very man for 
the task, the sergeant major of his cavalry, John 
Champe, who though reluctant to even appear as 
a deserter, obeyed the orders given him, and was 
pursued by others of his corps, who fully believed 
that he was the deserter he appeared. They 
chased him as far as Bergen, and there he hailed 
some British ships, one of which took him on 
board. He had brought his orderly book and 
other documents with him to support his claim 
that he was a deserter and that he, a traitor like 
Arnold himself, was ready to supply the British 
with information. 

The captain of the ship believed his story, and 
landing him in New York, gave him a letter to 
Sir Henry. 

The faithfulness of the regiment from which he 
appeared to have deserted was well known in the 


British army, and what he had done was regarded 
as a sign of increasing dissatisfaction in the Ameri- 
can army. So sincere appeared his desire to serve 
the king that he almost at once established him- 
self in the confidence of Sir Henry. 

At that very time Arnold was forming a legion 
of royalists and deserters, and to him Champe was 
sent as a recruit. 

In the rear of Arnold's quarters was a garden 
running down to the water's edge, and Champe 
ascertained that it was Arnold's custom to walk 
here at a certain hour of the evening before going 
to bed. He accordingly arranged to kidnap him 
one night and to convey him to a boat which 
would be waiting on the river. If there was inter- 
ference, Champe and his two confederates would 
say that they were conveying a drunken man to 
the guardhouse. Every precaution was taken. 
The raihngs of the garden were loosened, so that 
they could easily be lifted out to give access to the 
street, and when all had been arranged, Champe 
wrote to "Light Horse Harry" Lee, informing him 
of the night on which the adventure would take 
place. Lee was to meet him in some woods on 
the Hoboken shore, with three horses, and then 
they were to make all speed to the American camp. 

Lee concealed himself at the appointed place, 


and waited there till dawn, when he returned to 
camp greatly disappointed. Champe's plans had 
failed. On the very day he had fixed for the cap- 
ture, Arhold changed his quarters, and instead of 
crossing the Hudson that night, Champe was 
ordered on board a British ship for Virginia, which 
carried part of an expedition under Arnold. 

It was long afterwards that he made his escape 
from the British camp, and Arnold probably never 
knew how nearly this trooper under him had 
delivered him into the hands of General Washington. 

Arnold, under the terms he had exacted before- 
hand, was made a brigadier-general in the British 
army and was paid a large sum of money by the 
British. He pubHshed an address in which he 
endeavored to vindicate himself. He said he con- 
sidered the Declaration of Independence unwise, 
and he protested against the treaty with France, 
"a proud, ancient, and crafty foe, the enemy of 
the Protestant faith and of real liberty.'' But he 
never ceased to be held in contempt by both the 
British and the Americans, and never found a 
friend among those to whom he had sold himself. 

Our final glimpse of Arnold is pitiable. During 
the last days of his life, which were passed in 
London, his mind constantly reverted to his old 
friendship with Washington. 


His American uniform he had always kept, and 
when he felt that his end was near he put it on. 
''Let me die," he said, ''in this old uniform in 
which I fought my battles. May God forgive me 
for ever putting on any other." 

Our First President 

Though he was supposed to be resting there, 
Washington found plenty to do on his return to 
Mount Vernon. Crowds of visitors came to see 
him there, and all spoke of his simplicity. "My 
manner of living is plain," he himself said, "and 
I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine 
and a bit of mutton are always ready, and such as 
will be content to partake of them are always 
welcome. Those who expect more will be dis- 

The estate had suffered from neglect and the 
ravages of war, and it was his desire to restore it to 
its former perfection. "The more I am acquainted 
with agricultural affairs," he wrote to a friend in 
England, "the better I am pleased with them, 
insomuch that I can nowhere find so much satis- 
faction as in those innocent and useful pursuits." 

A visitor to Mount Vernon at this time de- 
scribed his experience thus : "I trembled with awe 
as I came into the presence of the great man. I 



found him at table with Mrs. Washington and her 
grandchildren, where he soon put me at my ease 
by unbending in a free and affable conversation. 
I observed a peculiarity in his smile which seemed 
to illuminate his eye; his whole countenance 
beamed with intelligence, while it commanded 
confidence and respect. I found him kind and 
benignant in the domestic circle ; revered and be- 
loved by all around him.'' 

His servants seemed to watch his eye, and to 
anticipate his every wish. He seldom laughed, 
though his smile was frequent. His responsibili- 
ties hung heavily upon him. He was conscien- 
tious in the highest degree, and let nothing pass 
without weighing it. 

One more picture of the domestic life at Mount 
Vernon, this written by a friend of Nellie Custis, 
Mrs. Washington's granddaughter : — 

"When ten o'clock came, Mrs. Washington re- 
tired and her granddaughter accompanied her, 
and read a chapter and a psalm from the old 
family Bible. All then knelt together in prayer, 
and when Mrs. Washington's maid had prepared 
her for bed, Nellie sang a soothing hymn, and lean- 
ing over her, received from her some words of 
counsel and her kiss and blessing." 

That granddaughter states that Washington 


spoke little, and never of himself. ''I never heard 
him relate a single act of his life during the war," 
she says. 

Though he was stately in manner, he was modest. 
His equanimity showed itself on all occasions, and 
in all things he was without the least taint of self- 
consciousness. Had we met him in the grounds 
of Mount Vernon as he went about planting and 
transplanting, surveying his acres with all the 
love and knowledge of a woodsman and gardener, 
we should have taken him for an amiable country 
gentleman, rather than for one of the most famous 
men in the world, whose name was now on every 
lip. He would have been quite silent about him- 
self, but eloquent about his trees and crops and 

Literary men begged material for memoirs 
from Washington, and portrait painters gave him 
no rest ; all of them wanted to write about him 
or to paint his portrait. 

He said, *''In for a penny, in for a pound,' is an 
old adage. I am so hackneyed to the touch of 
painter's pencils, that I am now altogether at their 
beck, and sit, like patience on a monument, whilst 
they are delineating the Hues of my face. It is a 
proof, among many others, of what habit and cus- 
tom can accomplish." 


"I found," wrote Stuart, the artist, "that it 
was difficult to interest him in conversation while 
I was taking his portrait. I began on the revolu- 
tion — the battles of Monmouth and Princeton, 
but he was absolutely dumb. After a while I 
got on horses. Then I touched the right chord." 

All the time, however, he was thinking of the 
future of his country, and he was one of the first 
to perceive the greatness of its destiny, especially 
the possibilities of the West. The thirteen states 
were jealous of each other and discontented. Vir- 
ginia wanted one thing, New York another, and 
New England another. All were at variance. 
He saw the necessity of bringing them together 
and creating a national feeling among them. 
They were eager to preserve their own sovereignty 
and to be independent of one another. 

As Senator Henry Cabot Lodge has written, 
"Washington at a single step passed from being a 
Virginian to being an American, and in so doing 
he stood alone." 

Among his plans was one to open the western 
country by means of inland navigation. For this 
purpose he revived a company which had been 
abandoned on account of the war, and when a 
bonus in the form of stock in the company was 
offered to him he refused it, saying that he thought 


it would make him look like a pensioner or depend- 
ent to accept such a gratuity. At last he was 
persuaded to take it, but he did not keep it for 
himself; he endowed two schools with it, and 
they are to this day enjoying the income. 

Against obstacles and delays he persisted in his 
ideal, and only by prodigious labor achieved it. 

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the 
United States was adopted by the convention that 
formulated it, and it may be said that Washington 
was the father of it. Then a President was 
needed, and against his wishes he was unanimously 
chosen for that high ofhce. The long rest he had 
contemplated was not for him. 

"At ten o'clock," he writes in his diary, "I bade 
adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to 
domestic felicity ; and with a mind oppressed with 
more anxious and painful sensations than I have 
words to express, set out for New York, with the 
best disposition to render service to my country, 
in obedience to its call, but with less hope of 
answering its expectations." 

To his friend General Knox, he wrote, "My 
movements to the chair of government will be 
accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a cul- 
prit who is going to the place of his execution, so 
unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly 


consumed in public affairs, to quit a peacefuL 
abode for an ocean of difficulties, without the com- 
petency of political skill, abilities, and inclination, 
which are necessary to manage the helm. . . . 
Integrity and firmness are all I can promise. 
These, be the voyage long or short, shall never 
forsake me, although I may be deserted by all 
men, for of the consolations which are to be derived 
from these, under any circumstances, the world 
cannot deprive me." 

There is a letter of his showing the humility 
with which he approached the responsibilities of 
his new position : — 

"I greatly fear that my countrymen will expect 
too much from me. I fear, if the issue of public 
measures should not correspond with their sanguine 
expectations, they will turn the extravagant, and I 
might say undue praises, which they are heaping 
on me at this moment, into equally extravagant, 
though I will fondly hope unwonted, censures." 

On this Washington Irving commented thus : 
*' Little was his modest spirit aware that the praises 
so dubiously received were but the opening notes 
of a theme that was to increase from age to age, 
to pervade all lands, and endure throughout all 

At Alexandria some friends gave him a farewell 



dinner. "All that now remains for me," he said 
on that occasion, ''is to commit myself and you 
to the care of that Being who, on a former occasion, 
happily brought us together after a long and dis- 
tressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious 
Providence will again indulge me. But words 
fail me. Unutterable sensations must then be left 
to more expressive silence, while from an aching 
heart I bid all my affectionate friends and kind 
neighbors farewell." 

Great honors came to him on his way to New 
York. Every village and town turned out to see 
him and greet him. He entered Philadelphia under 
triumphal arches, and young girls walked before 
him, singing and strewing flowers. 

At Trenton, where twelve years before he had 
crossed the Delaware in darkness and storm, the 
sun now shone. On the bridge that covers the river, 
the ladies of the town had erected another triumphal 
arch, bearing an inscription, ''The defender of the 
mothers will be the protector of the daughters." 

At Elizabeth he was met by congressional com- 
mittees, and he went on board a barge manned by 
thirteen pilots in white uniform, who rowed him 
to New York. The vessels in the harbor, dressed 
in flags, fired salutes in his honor. Music mingled 
with the sound of the guns. 


On April 30 he was inaugurated in New York 
City. There were religious services in all the 
churches, and prayers were murmured for the 
blessing of Heaven on the new government. At 
twelve o'clock the city troops paraded in front of 
his house, and half an hour later he rode in a state 
carriage to the hall where the Sub-Treasury now 
stands in Wall Street, followed or preceded by the 
troops, his aid-de-camp, various officials, foreign 
ministers, and a long train of citizens. 

The Vice-President, John Adams, the Senate, 
and the House of Representatives were assembled. 
In the center of a balcony was a table, covered 
with crimson velvet, on which rested a beautiful 
Bible. There the ceremony was performed in 
presence of crowds of people, and when he appeared 
he was greeted with the greatest enthusiasm. He 
was much agitated by the welcome the people 
gave him. Advancing to the front of the table, 
he put his hand on his heart, bowed several times, 
and then sat on a chair near the table. The Bible 
was held up to him on a crimson cushion, and he 
reverently placed his hand upon it as he received 
the oath of office. 

Very solemnly he said, "I swear — so help me 

The Chancellor of the State of New York then 


exclaimed, "Long live George Washington, Presi- 
dent of the United States!" 

Artillery was discharged, and all the bells of the 
city rang out in joyful peals, while the cheering 
was so loud and continuous that it almost drowned 
the guns and the bells. 

Another service was held in St. Paul's Church, 
the church that still stands on Broadway, and the 
remainder of the day was spent in feasting and 


Martha Washington 

Washington's married life was a very happy 
one, and Martha, his wife, was his almost insepa- 
rable companion. At the age of seventeen she 
became the reigning belle of Virginia society, and 
at that early age married her first husband, Daniel 
Parke Custis, much older than herself, who died 
seven years later, leaving her with two children. 

A year afterwards, when she was visiting a 
friend, a young officer called at the house and was 
about to depart in a hurry, being engaged in im- 
portant government business, when the host, wish- 
ing to keep him overnight, promised him that if 
he would stay he should be introduced to one of 
the most charming and richest widows in all 

The widow was Martha Custis, and the young 
officer was George Washington He rode the 
chestnut brown horse which General Braddock 
had given him, and was attended as usual by 



Braddock's old servant, Bishop. So he was pre- 
vailed on to stay, and that evening met for the 
first time the lady who was destined to become his 
wife. His name was, of course, very familiar to 
her, and he appeared in the light of a hero to her, 
for Virginia was then resounding with his praises. 

''There was an urchin [Cupid] in the drawing 
room, more powerful than King George and all 
his governors ! " wrote an observer. ''Subtle as a 
sphinx, he had hidden the important dispatches 
which Washington carried from the soldier's sight, 
shut up his ears from the summons of the tell-tale 
clock, and was playing such pranks with the bravest 
heart in Christendom that it fluttered with the 
excess of a new-found happiness." 

He left the next day, but almost immediately 
returned to call on the young lady in her own 
home. Before that second meeting with her 
ended, they were betrothed, and they were married 
on January 6, 1759, with much ceremony. 

On that occasion Washington wore a coat of 
blue cloth, lined with red silk and ornamented with 
silver trimmings ; his waistcoat was of white satin 
embroidered; his shoe and knee buckles were of 
gold ; his hair was powdered, and by his side hung 
a dress-sword. 

The bride was attired in a white satin quilted 

Martha Washington 

From the portrait by Gilbert Stuart. It may be seen to-day in the 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 


petticoat, and a heavy corded white silk overskirt ; 
high-heeled shoes of white satin, with diamond 
buckles; point lace ruffles; pearl necklace, ear- 
rings and bracelet; pearl ornaments were in her 

It was for Virginia in those days a splendid and 
surpassing affair. From the church the bride with 
attendant ladies drove back home in a coach 
drawn by six horses, with liveried black postilions, 
and accompanied by Washington mounted on his 
richly caparisoned charger. The old servant, 
Bishop, proud of his position and toploftical to all 
but his master and mistress, was also there in his 
finest clothes. 

"I have heard much of that marriage from the 
lips of old servants who were participants in the 
scene," said a relative of the Washing tons to the 
historian, Benson J. Lossing. "There was one 
negro named Cully, whose enthusiasm would kindle 
whenever the subject was touched upon. I said 
to him one day when he was in the hundredth 
year of his age : — 

"^And so, Cully, you remember when Colonel 
Washington came a-courting your mistress?' 

'"Indeed I do, marster. He was dar on'y fo' 
times afo' de wedding, for yo' see he was in de 
war all de time. We couldn't keep our eyes off 


him, he was so grand. An' Bishop was most as 
grand as him/ 

"'And the wedding!' I asked. 

"* Great times, great times/ Cully replied. 
'We shall never see de like again. Mo' hosses 
an' car'ges an' fine ladies and fine gen'men dan 
when missus was mar'ied afo'.' 

"'And how did Colonel Washington look?' 

"'Neber see'd de like, sir! Never de likes of 
him, though I've seen many in my day. He was 
so tall, so straight, an' so handsom', and he set a 
horse, an' rid with such an air ! Oh, he was gran' ! 
Yaas, he was like no one else. Many of de grandest 
gen'lemen in gold lace was at de weddin,' but none 
looked so fine as the Colonel himself.' 

"'And your mistress?' 

"Cully raised both hands and exclaimed, 'Oh, 
she was bootiful and so good, was mistress.'" 

For several months they lived in her house, 
known as "White House," and then went to 
Mount Vernon, which was redecorated and im- 
proved. Washington received a wedding present 
from the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, 
inscribed "From the oldest general in Europe to 
the greatest general in the world." 

The Washingtons lived in abundance, but with- 
out extravagance. Mrs. Washington was an 


excellent housewife. So constant was their hos- 
pitality that Washington wrote in his diary in 
1768, "Would any one believe that with one hun- 
dred cows, actually reported at the last enumera- 
tion of the cattle, I should be obliged to buy butter 
for my family!'* 

Martha Washington was small, dainty, and 
pretty, not brilliant, but good, a woman whose 
home was her sanctuary, and the source of all 
happiness when her husband was with her. Wash- 
ington treated his stepson and stepdaughter as if 
they were his own. The stepdaughter died young, 
and her brother married. Mrs. Washington could 
not attend the ceremony, but sent a beautiful letter 
to the bride: "My dear Nelly: God took from 
me a daughter when June roses were blooming. 
He has now given me another daughter when 
winter winds are blowing, to warm my heart again. 
I am as happy as one so afflicted and so blessed 
can be. Pray receive my benediction and a wish 
that you may long live the loving wife of my 
happy son, and a loving daughter of your affec- 
tionate mother, M. Washington." 

When the Revolution began, Mrs. Washington 
was courageous and full of fortitude, though aware 
of the distress it was bound to cause. Somebody 
wrote to her of the "folly" of Washington's taking 


part in it, and she nobly replied, "I foresee conse- 
quences, dark days and dark nights; domestic 
happiness suspended, social enjoyments abandoned ; 
property of every kind put in jeopardy by war per- 
haps ; neighbors and friends at variance, and eternal 
separations on earth. But my mind is made up, 
my heart is in the cause. George is right; he is 
always right. God has promised to protect the 
righteous, and I will trust Him." 

Edmund Pendleton said of her, "I was much 
pleased with Mrs. Washington and her spirit. 
She seemed ready to make any sacrifice, and was 
very cheerful, though I knew she felt very anxious. 
She talked like a Spartan mother to her son on 
going to battle. 'I hope you will all stand firm, 
I know George will,' she said. The dear little 
woman was busy from morning until night with 
domestic duties, but she gave us much time in 
conversation and affording us entertainment. 
When we set off in the morning, she stood in the 
door and cheered us with good words, 'God be 
with you, gentlemen."' 

After the war began, she joined her husband at 
Cambridge, and they put up in the mansion which 
afterwards became the home of the poet Long- 
fellow, and which is still in possession of the Long- 
fellow family. Though unassuming andunpreten- 


tious, a truly womanly woman, she made a little 
court there, and her patriotism inspired all who 
came in contact with her. Her husband often 
deferred to her judgment. 

Her journey to Cambridge was made in the 
dead of winter in a carriage, of course, over the 
lonely and rough country roads, some of them 
mere ruts in deep mud, which stretched between 
isolated towns and settlements from Virginia to 
Massachusetts. There were many perils on the 
way, not only from wild animals and ruffians, but 
also from the enemy, who at one time thought of 
kidnapping her and holding her as a hostage. 

Again, when she had returned to Virginia, a plot 
was made to ravage Mount Vernon and capture 
her, but it was frustrated, as was another plot 
against Washington. An Irishman named Hickey 
bribed one of the General's servants to poison him, 
but the servant forewarned him and he did not 
touch the poisoned dish. Hickey was seized at 
once, and executed in the presence of twenty 
thousand persons. 

The General became so active in the field that 
seventeen months passed without Lady Washing- 
ton, as his wife was called, seeing him, but after 
that long separation they were reunited at White- 
marsh, near Philadelphia, just before the terrible 


march to Valley Forge, on which she accompanied 
him, remaining at his side during the winter. 
Every day from early morning till late at night 
she was busy providing comforts for the sick sol- 
diers, mending clothes and knitting socks for them. 
She was simple in her own attire for the benefit of 
others, and dressed herself and her servants in 
homespun cloth made at Mount Vernon. 

"Yesterday, with several others, I visited Lady 
Washington at headquarters,'' a lady wrote. 
*^We expected to find the wealthy wife of the great 
general elegantly dressed, for the time of our visit 
had been fixed; but, instead, she was neatly 
attired in a plain brown habit. Her gracious and 
cheerful manner delighted us all, but we felt re- 
buked by the plainness of her apparel and her 
example of persistent industry, while we were 
extravagantly dressed idlers, a name not very 
creditable in these perilous times. She seems very 
wise in experience, kind-hearted and winning in all 
her ways. She talked much of the sufferings of 
the poor soldiers, especially of the sick ones. Her 
heart seemed to be full of compassion for them." 

Even after Washington had become President, 
his wife adhered to her simple way of life. At her 
receptions, when the clock struck nine, she would 
say with a sweet smile, ''This is the hour when the 


President retires, and I usually precede him." 
By ten o'clock all the Hghts in her house were 

Living with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon 
was Mrs. Washington's granddaughter, Nellie 
Custis, one of the most beautiful and most brilliant 
young women of her time. ''I was young and 
romantic then," Nellie has said, ''and fond of wan- 
dering alone in the woods of Mount Vernon by 
moonlight. Grandmamma thought it wrong and 
unsafe, and scolded and coerced me into a promise 
that I would not wander in the woods again, un- 
accompanied. But I was missing one evening, 
and was brought home from the interdicted woods 
to the drawing-room, where the General was 
walking up and down with his hands behind him, 
as was his wont. Grandmamma, seated in her 
great armchair, opened a severe reproach." 

Poor Nellie was reminded of her promises and 
taxed with her delinquency. She knew she had 
done wrong, admitted her fault, and made no 
excuse, but when there was a slight pause, she 
moved as if to retire from the room. She was just 
shutting the door, when she heard the General 
interceding in her behalf. 

''My dear," he said to Mrs. Washington, "I 
should say no more — perhaps she was not alone." 


Nellie stopped in her retreat, and reopening the 
door, advanced to the General with a firm step. 

"Sir," she said, ''you brought me up to speak 
the truth, and when I told Grandmamma I was 
alone I hope you believe I was alone?" 

The General made one of his most magnificent 
bows, and replied, "My child, I beg your pardon." 

When Nellie was about sixteen years old, she 
attended her first ball, and wrote a description of 
it to Washington. After alluding to something 
she said about her indifference to young men, 
and her determination never to give herself a 
moment's uneasiness on account of them, he 
gravely warned her not to be too sure of herself. 

"In the composition of the human frame there 
is a good deal of inflammable matter, which, when 
the torch is put to it, may burst into flame," he 
told her, and continued thus : "Love is said to be 
an involuntary passion, and it is contended that 
it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, 
for like all things else, when nourished and sup- 
pHed plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its 
progress ; but let these be withdrawn, and it may 
be stifled in its birth, or much stinted in its growth. 
. . . Nothing short of good sense and an easy, 
unaffected conduct can draw the line between 
prudery and coquetry. It would be no great 


departure from the truth to say that it rarely 
happens otherwise than that a thorough-paced 
coquette dies in ceHbacy, as a punishment for her 
attempts to mislead others by encouraging looks, 
words, and actions, given for no other purpose than 
to draw men on to make overtures that they may 
be rejected." 

Kindly old man ! He could steer the ship of 
state and also, as he thought, the romantic fancies 
of a pretty young woman like Nellie Custis ! 

In spite of her asserted indifference to young 
men, she was married to his nephew on Wash- 
ington's birthday, February 22, 1799. She wanted 
him to wear a new and splendid uniform that had 
been made for him, but he appeared in the old 
blue and buff that he had worn in many battles 
of the Revolutionary War. The delighted girl 
threw her arms around Washington's neck and 
cried, "After all, I love you better in that." 


Washington's Friends 

Chief among the friends of Washington was 
the Marquis Lafayette who came of a noble family 
which for more than three centuries had been 
distinguished in French history. He had been the 
pet of royalty, a page to the French queen Marie 
Antoinette, and a lieutenant in the Royal Musket- 
eers, a body of soldiers charged with the defense 
of the king's person. All his relatives were people 
of the highest rank. 

It might have been expected that amid such 
surroundings he would have been an aristocrat 
in disposition, but he proved to be a true republi- 
can. The news of what the Americans were doing 
for themselves inflamed him in the cause of liberty 
and the rights of man. 

Against some opposition he came to America 
in 1777 in a ship which he had purchased for the 
purpose, and landing at Georgetown, S. C, he 
traveled on horseback to Philadelphia, where 



Congress was in session. The journey, which took 
a month, was beset with countless difficulties. 

Here he was, a high-bred, courtly young gentle- 
man of charming manners, offering his services in 
the army without pay, and asking nothing more 
than the satisfaction of helping a cause in which he 
believed, and the chance to win what glory he 

We can imagine the older men looking at him 
askance, smiling at his youthfulness, his ardor, 
and his aristocratic manners, and doubting his 
efficiency. He was a mere boy, not twenty years 

Gloom spread over his face as he heard the 
decision of Congress. They had received so many 
applications from foreign officers for positions that 
they could consider no more. They admired him 
but they could not make use of him; they were 
very sorry — and so forth ! 

He pleaded so earnestly and so persistently 
that, remembering he asked no pay, they at last 
gave him a commission, and the next day he met 
Washington for the first time. 

At once that friendship began which lasted 
through their lives. Washington was attracted 
to him from the first, and as his knowledge of him 
increased, he addressed him in such terms of affec- 


tion and admiration as he used toward no other 
man, while the young Lafayette on his part bore 
himself with no less affection and the deepest 
reverence toward the older. 

The '' Conway Cabal, " as that group of conspira- 
tors against Washington was called, attempted to 
use Lafayette as a tool, but he detected their 
purposes, and never wavered in his loyalty to 
his chief. 

His mihtary career justified Washington's con- 
fidence in him. At the battle of the Brandy- 
wine he was wounded in the leg. At the battle 
of Monmouth Court House he fought gallantly 
and with excellent judgment. He served also in 
Rhode Island under SulHvan. But it was as a 
sort of unofficial ambassador from this country to 
France that he proved most useful. 

He returned to France in an American frigate 
called the Alliance, the crew of which mutinied, 
plotting to seize her and take her into a British 
port, after murdering all on board, except 
Lafayette, who was to be delivered as a suitable 
prisoner in exchange for General Burgoyne. The 
plot was discovered and frustrated, and when he 
arrived in France, Lafayette induced the French 
government to send an army and a fleet to support 
the Americans under Washington. 


He then returned to America, and his place 
from first to last was with the Americans, not with 
the French he had brought with him. He rejoined 
Washington at once, and arriving at the time 
Arnold's treason was discovered, served on the 
board of fourteen generals who sentenced Andre 
to death. 

The troops under him were, like most of the 
American army, in a wretched condition, their 
clothes hanging from them in disreputable looking 
rags. At his own cost, for he was rich and generous, 
Lafayette provided them with proper garments. 
The British generals spoke of him contemptuously 
as *'the boy," but he constantly proved his man- 
hood, and gave them many uncomfortable experi- 
ences. While he was fighting Lord Cornwallis, 
previous to the surrender at Yorktown, his con- 
duct was skillful and prudent, and contributed in 
no slight degree toward the grand result. 

Soon after the surrender, he became interested in 
the abolition of slavery and purchased a large 
plantation in Cayenne, where it was his purpose to 
educate the slaves with a view to their gradual 
emancipation, an experiment carefully followed by 

Meanwhile, Lafayette went back to France, 
which was already in the throes of the great 


revolution, and in the confusion there he was 
captured and sent to an Austrian prison, where he 
was treated with barbarous cruelty. Think of 
him, so young and so refined, so pure and so brave, 
shut up for four years in a loathsome dungeon ! 
Many prominent persons in England and America 
interceded for him, Washington among them. 
Finally came Napoleon who set him free, and 
Lafayette returned to his home, thankful to his 
deliverer but unwilling to enter his service. 

During Napoleon's rule Lafayette lived quietly 
at his country home, and when he was sixty-seven 
years old he revisited the United States. Here he 
was received with the greatest enthusiasm and 
honor. Until the end of his long life he retained 
his love for one great cause — the cause of liberty 
and humanity. 

Next to Lafayette in Washington's affection 
stood Henry Knox. Left fatherless when he was 
about to be graduated from the Boston Grammar 
School, he, the seventh of ten sons, became the sole 
support of his mother. He found a humble place 
in the bookstore of Wharton & Bowes in Cornhill, 
Boston, and delighted in the situation, for at odd 
moments he could dip into the volumes which 
surrounded him. ' Not satisfied with merely '* dip- 
ping," he took home books to read, and thus ac- 


quired much miscellaneous knowledge. He must 
have been able to do with little sleep, for he was 
no mere bookworm, but was noted for his stalwart 
strength and spirit. 

In those days there was a good deal of rivalry 
between the boys of the South end of Boston, and 
those of the North end. It was the custom then 
to celebrate Guy Fawkes' Day as it is still cele- 
brated in England on November 5, with processions 
and the burning of efhgies. One procession was 
not enough; both North end and South end had 
each to have one, and when they met in the streets 
there were savage tussles between them. 

On one occasion a broken wheel disabled the 
vehicle on which the effigies of Knox's party were 
carried, and rather than submit to the disgrace of 
withdrawing from the procession, Knox took up 
the heavy load and bore it upon his shoulders, 
until the place was reached for burning it, amid the 
cheers of the people and the discharge of hundreds 
of squibs and rockets. 

In time, Knox opened a bookstore of his own, near 
that of his former employers, and it soon became 
the resort of the fashionable people of Boston. One 
of his customers was the daughter of the royal 
secretary of the province, whom he afterwards 
married, much against her parent's wishes. They 


were aristocrats, those parents, and thought Knox 
far below her, but before long they saw that she 
had made no mistake in marrying one who though 
but *'a tradesman" had a martial spirit and 
conspicuous ability. 

Inducements were offered him to join the British 
army, in which his wife's brother was a lieutenant. 
He would not listen to them. He was active on the 
American side, even before the conflicts at Lex- 
ington and Concord, and was the master spirit 
in the formidable work of the Americans around 

Though a bookseller by trade, Henry Knox was 
a born soldier, and in the early days of the war he 
won Washington's heart by offering to go on an 
arduous expedition to provide him with artillery 
and ordnance stores, the need for which was im- 
perative during the long conflict with the British 
around Boston. That expedition involved a winter 
journey to Lake Champlain, and back, across 
frozen rivers and lakes, and over roads deep in 
snow and mire. But Knox accomplished it, and 
brought back with him more than fifty cannon, 
mortars, and howitzers, besides supplies of lead 
and flint. These were carried on a long train of 
sledges drawn by oxen all the way from Ticon- 
deroga, and Knox was received with acclaim for 


his endurance and his pertinacity. He had already 
distinguished himself by his valor at Bunker Hill ; 
henceforth he was to be in constant communication 
with Washington, and one of his most trusted and 
admired officers. 

Another warm friend of Washington's was 
Alexander Hamilton. We have seen how he first 
attracted Washington by his energy in building 
the fortification at Harlem Heights. He was born 
on January 11, 1757, on the island of Nevis in the 
West Indies, the son of an unsuccessful Scottish 
merchant and a lady of Huguenot descent. 
Hamilton's friends called him ''the little lion" 
from the vigor and dignity of his speech. He was 
considered handsome, though undersized. His 
dark, deepset eyes had a commanding quality, 
which often held spellbound those who listened to 
him. Like many others in Revolutionary years, 
he was early in life thrown on his own resources, 
and was only thirteen years old when he was 
placed in the office of Nicholas Cruger, a West 
Indian merchant, where his diligence and intelli- 
gence soon became evident. So clever was he 
that his relatives and friends contrived the means 
for improving his educatiqn, and sent him to King's 
College, now Columbia University, in New York. 

While there, after some debate with himself, he 


espoused the American cause, and amazed a great 
audience by speaking without preparation from 
the platform at a public meeting. Below the 
normal stature, he looked even younger than his 
seventeen years, while he overwhelmed his listeners 
by his extraordinary eloquence. From that mo- 
ment he was a marked man ; he not only became 
captain of a troop of artillery, he constantly spoke 
and wrote articles and pamphlets in the fight for 
civil liberty. When he was only twenty, Wash- 
ington took him on his staff as lieutenant-colonel. 

More than a soldier, Alexander Hamilton was a 
statesman, and in time he became Secretary of 
the Treasury. Washington said of him, ''Few of 
his age have a more general knowledge, and no one 
is more firmly engaged in the cause, or exceeds him 
in probity and sterling virtue." 

He married the daughter of General Philip 
Schuyler, rich and eminent and a loyal patriot; 
and though needy, Hamilton refused the aid offered 
by his father-in-law while he struggled to obtain 
his legal education. 

An extract from a letter written by Mrs. Wash- 
ington to Mrs. Hamilton during an illness of Hamil- 
ton, shows how friendly the two families were : — 

"I am truly glad, my dear Madam, to hear 
Colonel Hamilton is better bodily. You have my 


prayers and warmest wishes for his recovery. I 
hope you will take care of yourself, as you know 
it is necessary for your family. We are lucky to 
have those bottles of the old wine that was carried 
to the East Indies, which are sent to you, with 
three of another kind, also good. We have a 
plenty to supply you, as often as you please to 
send for it. The president joins me in devoutly 
wishing for Colonel Hamilton's recovery." 

After all his brilliant services to the young re- 
public, and they are said to have been next in 
value to Washington's, his end was tragic. He had 
bitterly opposed Aaron Burr in politics, and at 
last received a challenge from him to fight a duel. 
He disapproved of that foolish way of settling 
disputes, but shrank from the possibility of being 
thought a coward. 

''I have resolved," he said, "to let Colonel Burr 
fire without returning his shot, so that he may 
have an opportunity to pause and repent." 

The meeting took place at seven o'clock in the 
morning in the Elysian Fields, as some meadows 
near the PaHsades of the Hudson at Weehawken 
were called. At the first word Aaron Burr fired, 
and Hamilton instantly fell; he was mortally 
wounded, though he survived until the next day. 

His wonderful work as Secretary of the Treasury 


won from Daniel Webster his famous tribute : "He 
smote the rock of the national resources and 
touched the dead corpse of public credit which 
sprang upon its feet. . . . The fabled birth of 
Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more 
sudden or more perfect than that of the financial 
system of the United States from the conceptions of 
Alexander Hamilton." 

"His purity/' says Goldwin Smith, who was no 
indulgent critic, "was above suspicion; the 
attempts of his enemies to impeach it totally 
failed. Equally above suspicion was his patriot- 
ism, and if, in the fierce excitement of political 
conflict, he did what could not be defended, these 
were but spots on a character otherwise stainless.'* 

Another friend for whom Washington had 
affection was Colonel Daniel Morgan, the rifleman 
who fought valiantly both in the North and in the 
South, for he became the famous hero of the battle 
of the Cowpens. Here the loss of the Americans 
was only seventy-two while the British lost more 
than eight hundred. 

One night, early in the war, Washington said 
to Morgan, "I have sent for you, Colonel Morgan, 
to intrust to your courage and sagacity a small 
but very important enterprise. I wish you to 
reconnoiter the enemy's lines, with a view to your 


ascertaining correctly the positions of their newly 
constructed redoubts ; also the encampments of 
the British troops that have lately arrived and 
those of the Hessian auxiHaries. Select, sir, an 
officer, a non-commissioned officer, and about 
twenty picked men, and under the cover of night, 
proceed with all possible caution, get as near as 
you can, learn all you can, and by dawn retire, 
and make your report to headquarters. 

"But mark me, Colonel Morgan, mark me well : 
on no account whatever are you to bring on any 
skirmishing with the enemy. If discovered, make 
a speedy retreat ; let nothing induce you to fire a 
single shot. I repeat, sir, that no force of cir- 
cumstances will excuse the discharge of a single 
rifle on your part, and for the extreme precision 
of these orders, permit me to say I have my 

Morgan, dashing and eager, listened attentively. 
Fining two glasses of wine, the general continued, 
"And now we will drink a good night and success 
to the enterprise." 

Morgan did what he was told as to the observa- 
tions, and was returning when his men saw some 
of the enemy ride along the road. The tempta- 
tion was too great for them, and they fired, con- 
trary to Washington's explicit order. 


Morgan, after they reached camp, was reflecting 
uncomfortably on what would happen to him when 
Alexander Hamilton approached him and said, ''I 
am ordered, Colonel Morgan, to inquire whether 
the firing just now heard came from your detach- 

*'It did, sir," Morgan replied unhappily. 

^' Then, Colonel, I am further ordered to require 
your immediate attendance on his Excellency, who 
is approaching." 

Washington appeared. 

"Can it be possible that my aid-de-camp has 
informed me aright? Can it be possible," he 
demanded with much sternness, "after the orders 
you received last evening, that the firing we have 
heard proceeded from your detachment? Surely, 
sir, my orders were so explicit as not to be easily 

Shaking in his boots, Morgan uncovered and 
repHed, "Your Excellency's orders were perfectly 
understood, and agreeably to the same, I proceeded 
with a select party to reconnoiter the enemy's 
lines. We succeeded beyond our expectations, 
and I was returning to headquarters to make my 
report when, having halted a few moments to rest 
our men, we discovered a party of horsemen com- 
ing out -from the enemy's Hnes. They came up 


immediately to the spot where we lay concealed 
by the brushwood. There they halted, and 
gathered together hke a flock of partridges, afford- 
ing me so tempting an opportunity of annoying my 
enemies that — that — that — may it please your 
Excellency, flesh and blood could not refrain." 

Washington turned away without a word of 
reproach, and Morgan said afterwards, ^'What 
could the unusual clemency of the commander in 
chief toward so insubordinate a soldier as I was 
mean? Was it that by attacking my enemy 
wherever I could find him, and the attack being 
crowned with success, should plead in bar of the 
disobedience of a positive order ? Certainly not. 
Was it that Washington knew that I loved, nay 
adored him above all human beings ? That knowl- 
edge would not have helped a feather in the scale 
of his military justice. In short, the whole affair 
is explained in five words : It was my first offence." 

Possibly, also, as Mr. Norman Hapgood says, 
part of the explanation lay in the fact that Wash- 
ington loved daring and successful fighters like 
Arnold, Morgan, and Wayne, as he loved dashing 
and cultivated young men like Hamilton, Laurens, 
and Lafayette. 


Washington's Enemies 

More trouble came to Washington through 
what was called the ''Whiskey Rebellion/' There 
were large numbers of Scotch-Irish in Pennsylvania 
who resisted taxation of the liquor they produced, 
and it was necessary to send an army against them 
to enforce the law. There was trouble also in the 
foreign relations of the country, for England still 
retained posts in the West, and Spain still claimed 
the Mississippi. France and England were again 
at war, and France was disposed to browbeat 
America. In violation of the neutraHty laws, she 
was fitting out privateers in this country against 
England, with the approval of a part of the people, 
but with Washington's disapproval. 

*'What," said the President, ''is to be done in 
the case of the Little Sarah, now at Chester?" 

The Little Sarah, a captured British ship, was 

one of the privateers. "Is the minister of the 

French RepubHc to set the acts of this government 

aside with impunity? And then threaten the 



executive with an appeal to the people? What 
must the world think of such conduct, and of the 
government of the United States in submitting 
to it?" 

Edmund Charles Genet, the French minister, 
promised that the ship should not sail until the 
dispute was settled, but notwithstanding that she 
sneaked out to sea by his connivance. 

Washington was furious. He would have liked 
to order Genet out of the country at once, but he 
wanted, if possible, to avoid any action that might 
arouse the anger of France. After some delay 
Washington did force Genet's retirement, and, 
afraid of going back to France, that gentleman re- 
mained quietly in this country and was seldom 
heard of again. He settled in New York City and 
became one of the founders of the Tammany So- 

At the same time there was much friction with 
England, which was less popular than France, and 
it often appeared as if the war, so recently ended, 
must be followed by another. Washington was 
eager for peace. To an EngHsh nobleman he 
wrote, "I believe it is the sincere wish of United 
America to have nothing to do with poHtical 
intrigues, or the squabbles of European nations ; 
but on the contrary to exchange commodities and 


live in peace and amity with all the inhabitants of 
the earth. Under such a system, if we are allowed 
to pursue it, the agricultural and mechanical arts, 
the wealth and population of these states, will in- 
crease with that degree of rapidity as to baffle 
all calculation, and must surpass any idea your 
Lordship can hitherto have entertained." 

But many of the people wanted to reopen the 
war and resented Washington's opposition to it. 
Stirred up by Genet, they threatened day after 
day in Philadelphia to drag the President out of his 
house and to overthrow the government. He had 
made a treaty with England which they did not 
like. Copies of it were burned in the streets, and 
John Jay, who had negotiated it, was hanged in 
effigy. But Washington was, as usual, as firm as 
a rock, and despite abuse and threats he enforced 
the treaty. 

Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, a delicate man 
and ill at the time, made a memorable speech in 
Congress in behalf of the treaty. 

"Even the minutes I have spent in expostulat- 
ing," he said, "have their value, because they 
protract the crisis and the short period, in which 
alone we may resolve to escape it. Yet I have, 
perhaps, as little personal interest in the event as 
any one here. There is, I believe, no member 


who will not think his chance to be a witness of 
the consequences to be greater than mine. If, 
however, the vote should pass to reject — even I, 
slender and almost broken as my hold on life is, 
may outlive the government and constitution of 
my country." 

John Adams, then Vice-President, thus described 
the speech in a letter to his wife : — 

^' Judge Iredell and I happened to sit together. 
Our feelings beat in unison. 'How great he is/ 
said Iredell. 

"'Noble,' said I. 

"'Bless my soul,' Iredell continued. 'I never 
heard anything so great since I was born.' 

"'Divine !' said I, and then we went on with our 
interjections, not to say tears, to the end — not 
a dry eye in the house." 

The treaty was ratified on April 30, 1796, in 
spite of all opposition. Ames's speech is regarded 
as one of the most eloquent ever made in Congress. 

Edmund Randolph, who had been a protege of 
Washington's, played a treacherous part in the 
French trouble, and Washington thus exposed him 
and cast him off: "Peyton Randolph [Edmund's 
father] was my dearest friend. He died suddenly 
in October, 1775. In an hour of affectionate and 
solemn communion, in which he had expressed an 



expectation that before long he would be thus re- 
moved, he begged me to be a friend to his nephew 
and adopted son, Edmund. I promised that I 
would be to him as a father; that promise has 
been faithfully kept. If, in any instance, I have 
been swayed by personal and private feelings in 
the exercise of political influence or of official 
patronage and power it has been in this. 

"Upon taking command of the army of the 
United Colonies in June, 1775, I made him, not 
then twenty-two years of age, one of my aids. . . . 
My entire interest was actively given to place and 
advance him in the path of political and professional 
promotion. By the aid of my influence he rose 
from one distinguished post to another in rapid 
succession. ... I made him Attorney- General in 
the States, at the organization of the Federal 
government, a member of my Cabinet from the 
first. In 1794 I made him Secretary of State, 
placing him at the head of my official council ; he 
has been admitted to my utmost confidence. I 
have held with him a daily intimacy. He occupied 
the chief seat among the guests at myftable." 

At this point Washington rose to his feet, his 
whole aspect and manner showing the gathering 

"While at the head of my Cabinet he has been 


secretly, but actively, plotting with the opponents 
of my administration, consulting and contracting 
with them for the defeat of its measures ; he, the 
Secretary of State, to whose trust the foreign rela- 
tions of the country are confided, has been con- 
ducting an intrigue with the ambassador of a 
foreign government, to promote the designs of 
that government, which were to overthrow the 
administration, of which he, Randolph, was a 
trusted member, receiving from that ambassador 
money to aid in accomplishing that object ; solicit- 
ing from him more for the same purpose — all 
this time I have had entire faith in him, and been 
led by that faith to pay deference to his representa- 
tions, to delay ratification of the English treaty, 
thereby exposing myself to the imputation of 
having been intimidated by party clamor from the 
discharge of a public duty, an imputation contrary 
to the truth, a thought abhorrent to my feelings 
and to my nature, and now he has written and 
published this!" 

Washington held in his hand Randolph's pam- 
phlet, and as he threw it down he burst into a flood 
of terrible denunciation. Then his temper grew 
calm as quickly as it had risen, and Randolph 
became a person not to be thought of again. 

Before his death Randolph said to one of Wash- 


ington's nephews : ^'If I could now present myself 
before your venerated uncle, it would be my pride 
to confess my contrition. I wish I could recall 
all I said of him.'^ 

A graphic account of Washington during his 
Presidency has been given by a neighbor of his in 

''When he was elected President, he lived during 
the whole of the time that he was in Philadelphia 
nearly opposite to me. At that time I saw him 
almost daily. ... He was a most elegant figure 
of a man, with so much dignity of manner that no 
person whatever could take any improper liberties 
with him. I have heard Mr. Robert Morris, who 
was as intimate with him as any man in America, 
say that he was the only man in whose presence he 
felt any awe. You would seldom see a frown or a 
smile on his countenance, his air was serious and 
reflecting, yet I have seen him laugh in the theatre 
heartily. . . . Commodore Barry, Major Jackson 
and myself were appointed a committee of the 
Society of the Cincinnati to wait on him with a 
copy of an address, and to learn when it would be 
convenient to wait upon him. He received us with 
good humor, and laughing, told us that he had 
heard Governor Morris say that when he knew 
gentlemen were going to call on him with an address. 


he sent to beg they would bring the answer to it 
with them so that he might be spared the trouble 
of preparing it. 

"He was in Philadelphia a short time before 
he died, and I thought he never looked better than 
he did at that time. He was called the American 
Fabius, but Fabius was not the equal of George 
Washington. He suffered Tarentum to be pillaged 
when it was traitorously delivered to him, and his 
opposition and jealousy of Scipio rendered the 
Roman unequal to the American hero." 

Still another bitter critic of Washington was 
Thomas Paine, a man of humble origin but great 
abilities. A Quaker, born in England, and early in 
life a sailor and a stay-maker, he met in London 
Benjamin FrankHn, who advised him to come to 
America, and he arrived in Philadelphia in Decem- 
ber, 1774. Like all good immigrants, Paine was 
ready to do anything for a living, and was fortunate 
in being appointed, almost at once, editor of the 
Pennsylvania Magazine, In that periodical and 
in pamphlets he poured out his thoughts with 
great industry, and they were all eloquent for 
freedom and the rights of man. His way of saying 
things was so sensible and at the same time so 
persuasive that he rarely missed his mark. His 
books sold by the hundreds of thousands, and he 


became one of the most prominent figures in the 
Revolutionary War. 

Not content with his activities here, he went 
back to England, and made trouble for the govern- 
ment there. 

"Tom Paine is quite right, '^ said the English 
Prime Minister, ''but what am I to do? As 
things are, if I were to encourage his opinions we 
should have a bloody revolution." 

Paine narrowly escaped the doom of traitors in 
the Tower of London, and made his way into 
France, where, so well known had this humble 
stay-maker become, he was received with great 
honors. Though he did not know the French 
language, and needed an interpreter, he was elected 
to political ojQ&ce there, and exciting the suspicions 
of Robespierre, he was thrown into prison, escaping 
the guillotine by a mere chance. 

Many of his speeches and his writings were 
beautiful. Of the struggle between England and 
America he said, ''Arms must decide the contest. 
The sun never shone on a cause of greater worth. 
'Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or 
a kingdom, but of a continent — of at least one- 
eighth part of the habitable globe. 'Tis not a 
concern of a day, a year, or an age ; posterity is 
involved in it even to the end of time. Freedom 


hath been hunted round the globe ; Asia and Africa 
have long expelled her; Europe regards her as 
a stranger, and England has given her warning to 
depart. Oh, receive the fugitive and prepare an 
asylum for mankind V^ 

His attacks on Washington may be attributed 
not to malice and not to envy, but to an honest 
misunderstanding due to the difference in the ideas 
of the two men. Washington himself praised 
Thomas Paine's abilities. 

The Indian Wars 

Let us now return to Washington as President. 
His burdens in that office were heavier than those of 
any other president, except Lincoln. The country 
was in great disorder, almost in a state of anarchy. 
Sometimes it appeared as if the government could 
not go on and that the union of the states must 
break up because of the differences between them. 
There were loud dissensions between those who 
believed in the supremacy of each state and those 
who insisted on the superiority of the whole to any 
part. Only a very great man could have saved 
them from disruption, and from that disaster 
they were saved by Washington's genius, his 
patience, his firmness, his shrewdness, his devo- 
tion, and his unwavering fidelity. Naturally a 
simple man, he yet upheld the dignity of his posi- 
tion on all occasions. Never had helmsman a 
steadier hand or clearer eye than his. 

Washington made a trip through New England 


and, of course, expected the governor of Massa- 
chusetts to call on him when he reached Boston. 
The holder of that office at the time was John 
Hancock, whose signature is so conspicuous in the 
Declaration of Independence. From that signa- 
ture it is easy to surmise Hancock's character. 
He was arrogant, bumptious, and jealous. Instead 
of calling on the President, he waited for the Presi- 
dent to call on him. But Washington would not 
be treated in that way, and stood on his dignity. 
At the eleventh hour Hancock saw his mistake. 
He wrote an apologetic letter to Washington, 
asking if he might call on him within half an hour, 
though it would be at the hazard of his health, 
for he was a great sufferer from gout. Washington 
answered at once, expressing his willingness to 
see him, but begging him, with a touch of irony, 
not to do anything that might endanger his health. 
So Hancock came and made his call. 

It was a question of etiquette, nothing more, 
but Washington was exacting in such matters. 

*'How," says Senator Lodge, "the general gov- 
ernment would have sunk in popular estimation 
if the President had not asserted, with perfect 
dignity and yet entire firmness, its position ! 
Men are governed largely by impressions, and 
Washington knew it. Hence his settling at once 


and forever the question of precedence between the 
Union and the States. Everywhere and at all 
times, according to his doctrine, the nation was 
to be first." 

When the Indians were giving trouble, Major 
General Arthur St. Clair was appointed to subju- 
gate them. Before he started he had a long inter- 
view with Washington who especially warned him 
against ambuscaders. 

He was overwhelmed, however, and sent word 
to Washington of his defeat. When the messenger 
arrived, Washington was entertaining a dinner 
party and was denied to him. The servant and 
Washington's secretary offered to take in any 
message he had, but he insisted that he could 
communicate only with the President himself. 

At last Washington came out, and took from the 
messenger the dispatch containing news of the 
disaster. He said not a word, but went back to 
the dinner table, as if nothing had happened, and 
afterwards attended his wife's reception, showing 
his customary suavity in talking to the guests. 
Not until the last of them had gone did he show the 
slightest agitation. 

Then he suddenly broke out: "It's all over — 
St. Clair's defeated, routed; the officers nearly 
all killed; the men by wholesale; the rout com- 


pleted — too shocking to think of — and a sur- 
prise into the bargain.'' 

He strode up and down the room in anguish, and 
by and by burst forth into a torrent of wrath. 

^'Here in this very spot I took leave of him ; I 
wished him success and honor. 'You have your 
instructions from the Secretary of War/ I said. 
'I have a strict eye to them, and I will add but one 
word — beware of a surprise. I repeat it : be- 
ware of a surprise. You know how the Indians 
fight us ! ' He was off with that as my last solemn 
warning thrown into his ears. And yet ! to suffer 
that army to be cut to pieces, hacked, butchered, 
tomahawked by a surprise — the very thing I 
guarded him against I . . . How can he answer 
for it to his country! The blood of the slain is 
upon him — the curse of the widows and orphans 
— the curse of Heaven !" 

He sat down on the sofa and relapsed into 
silence, which he maintained for some time. 
Then he murmured, *' The news must not go beyond 
this room," and, recovering his self-possession, 
"General St. Clair shall have justice. I have 
been hasty, I looked hurriedly through the dis- 
patches, but did not see all the particulars. I will 
hear him without prejudice ; he shall have full 


The storm was over, and no further sign of it 
was ever seen or heard in his manner or conversa- 
tion. The case was investigated by Congress. 
St. Clair was exculpated and taken back to Wash- 
ington's confidence. He had put himself in the 
thickest of the fight and escaped unhurt, though 
unable to mount his horse without help and so ill 
that he had to be carried on a Htter. 

Washington was the pilot as well as the helms- 
man of the ship of state, and but for him that 
vessel must have been wrecked. He steered it 
through many perilous channels, and through 
many storms in which it again and again threatened 
to founder. To his sagacity alone was due its 
arrival in port, with all hands in safety and flying 

His first cabinet included some of the ablest men 
in the country. For the position of Attorney- 
General he chose Edmund Randolph, who came 
from one of the oldest Virginia families, and who 
had been governor of that state. The secretary- 
ship of War he gave to General Henry Knox, 
the former bookseller of Boston, who had been 
so useful during the revolution. For the secre- 
taryship of the Treasury he chose Alexander 
Hamilton, and for the highest place of all, the 
State Department, he chose Thomas Jefferson, 


who himself became third President of the United 


Jefferson received his appointment, like the 
others, not through favoritism, but because he 
was the best man for it. The others were all 
warm friends of Washington ; Jefferson never dis- 
played anything Hke affection for him, nor did Wash- 
ington ever display more than a dignified apprecia- 
tion of Jefferson. The two men differed in their 
views, and in a sense belonged to different parties. 
Washington was a federalist, or one who beheved in 
the nation, in its superiority to the states ; Jefferson 
advocated the rights of the states separately as 
against the supremacy of the nation. Each appreci- 
ated the abihties of the other, but no love was lost 
between them. Jefferson had less modesty than 
Washington, but he had a right to a high opinion of 
himself. He was a Virginian of good family, similar 
in position to that of Washington, his father ha\dng 
been a planter, and was the third child and eldest son. 

Graduating from William and Mary College, he 
became a lawyer, and was a member of the House 
of Burgesses on that famous occasion when Patrick 
Henry delivered his ''liberty or death" speech, 
and Lord Dunmore dismissed them with threats 
of prosecution for treason. Always orderly and 
dignified, he had much of Washington's stateHness, 


and a profound faith in the merits of democracy. 
Indeed, in some ways he was more democratic 
than Washington himself. Though he was nothing 
of an orator, he wrote in stately periods and was 
the author of the Declaration of Independence. 
He too was tall and handsome, a man of the great- 
est integrity and the loftiest principles. When he 
died he left this inscription for his tomb: "Here 
lies buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Dec- 
laration of American Independence, of the Statute 
of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of 
the University of Virginia.'' He was buried in the 
grounds of his magnificent estate, Monticello, 
near Charlottesville, Virginia, and his beautiful 
house is to-day in almost the identical condition 
as when he died. No essential change has been 
made in all the intervening years. 

One of the earliest difficulties of the Cabinet was 
with the Indians, who though driven out of the 
Atlantic states were still on the warpath west of the 
AUeghanies. There they menaced the frontier, and 
held back the whites, who were eager to advance 
westward. Washington was one of the few men 
who knew them well. He had been familiar with 
them in peace and had fought with them over and 
over again. 

Peace reigned in New York but in Kentucky 


a war was in progress between the Wabash Indians 
and the whites, who in reprisal punished other 
tribes indiscriminately ; then Choctaws, Cherokees, 
and Creeks united and were led by a Scotch half- 
breed named Alexander McGillivray. No doubt 
they had been treated unjustly. 

''Washington/' says Senator Lodge, "was both 
angered and disheartened by the conduct of the 
states and of the frontier settlers. . . . Those 
very men who shot Indians at sight, and plundered 
them of their lands, were the first to cry out for 
aid from the general government when a war, 
brought about usually by their own violation of 
the treaties of the United States, was upon them. 
On the other hand, the Indians themselves were 
warlike and quarrelsome." 

It was then that the defeat of St. Clair occurred, 
that disaster which moved Washington so deeply. 
St. Clair had left Cincinnati with two thousand 
men, with orders to build a line of forts. Pushing 
slowly on until he reached the head-waters of the 
Wabash, he was joined by some disorderly and un- 
disciplined Kentucky militia. Sixty of them de- 
serted, and it became necessary to send a regiment 
after them to keep them from plundering the bag- 
gage trains. 

Nevertheless St. Clair held to his course and 


reached his last camp with about fourteen hundred 
men. At sunrise the next day the Indians sur- 
prised him, only about a thousand of them against 
his fourteen hundred, and yet he was obliged to fly 
with a loss of nine hundred ! 

Panic seized the frontier, and another increase 
of the army was ordered. Anthony Wayne was 
put in charge. He was another able general who 
had been in many Revolutionary battles, victor 
in some and deserving praise even in his defeats. 
Washington called him a "prudent man," yet the 
rather misleading popular name for him, "Mad 
Anthony," was given to him for the daring of many 
of his exploits. 

Wayne led an army to a point six miles beyond 
Fort Jefferson, in the autumn of 1793, and went 
into winter quarters. Early in the following year 
he advanced to the scene of St. Clair's defeat, 
where he met the Indians and repulsed them after 
two days of fighting. He then marched to their 
villages and burned them. One victory was 
quickly followed by another, and in the end he 
forced on them a treaty of peace. 

This peace in the West and North did not pre- 
vail in the South, however. There the Georgians 
still assailed the red men, generally choosing the 
peacefully-disposed tribes as their victims, and 


the state of Georgia itself violated all the treaties 
made by the central government and carried on a 
constant war with the usual accompaniments of 
fire, murder, and pillage. 

All through these trying times Washington was 
often held responsible for the trouble. "No one," 
says Senator Lodge, "understood that here was 
an important part of a scheme to build up a nation, 
to make all the movements of the United States 
broad and national, and to open the vast West 
to the people who were to make it theirs. Wash- 
ington heard all the criticism and saw all the opposi- 
tion, and still pressed forward to the goal, not 
attaining all he wished, but fighting in a very clear 
and manful spirit, and not laboring in vain." 

Washington was now sixty-one years old, and 
he often sighed for the tranquillity of home, where 
we catch an occasional glimpse of him in harbor, 
as it were, after all the laboring of the ship of state 
through stormy seas. 


Second Term as President 

All the honors worth living for Washington had 
enjoyed, but much had he endured in winning 
them. There remained dif&culties in his cabinet 
now, especially between Hamilton and Jefferson. 

*'I would rather go to my farm, take my spade 
in my hand, and work for my bread than remain 
where I am," he complained in a fit of despondency. 

But soon after saying this he allowed himself to 
be elected President for a second term, and he 
wrote to the governor of Virginia, "That the pros- 
pect before us is, as you justly observe, fair, none 
can deny, but what use we shall make of it is ex- 
ceedingly problematical; not but that I believe 
all things will come right at last, but like a young 
heir come a little prematurely to a large inheritance, 
we shall wanton and run riot until we have brought 
our reputation to the brink of ruin, and then like 
him shall have to labor with the current of opinion, 
when compelled, perhaps, to do what prudent 



and common policy pointed out as plain as any 
problem in Euclid in the first instance." 

Meanwhile the country was growing with rapid 
strides, and immigrants arrived in increasing num- 
bers from nearly all parts of Europe, and especially 
from Germany and Ireland. Dr. James Schouler 
has sketched the farmer's progress thus : — 

"After buying his land and taking possession 
in the spring, the farmer would cut down a few 
trees to build himself and his family a temporary 
home. His neighbors, if there were any for miles 
about, good-naturedly lent their assistance, and 
in three or four days a building of unhewn logs 
rose ready for habitation. Roughly put together, 
the interstices stopped with rails, calked with 
straw or moss and daubed with mud, and the roof 
covered with nothing better than thin staves split 
out of oakwood and fastened on by heavy poles, 
such a dwelling was a 'log cabin' ; but a house of a 
better sort, especially if made of hewn logs, having 
the crannies neatly stopped with stone and plaster, 
and a shingled roof, would be styled a 4og house.' " 

At its door any bright afternoon might be seen 
a healthy woman, awaiting her husband's return, 
and dressed to please him, who dandled a baby in 
her arms, while handsome boys and girls played 
before her. All around the little home was the 
vast American forest, in which the husband worked 


hard to make a clearing, and the ring of his ax 
was the music of civilization's advancing hosts. 

A prudent settler never uprooted his large trees, 
for the labor would come to more than the land 
was worth; he cut them off two or three feet 
from the ground, and then left the stumps to decay 
at leisure. It would be ten years, perhaps, in 
New York and Pennsylvania, before such stumps 
would rot away ; farther south the process was 
more rapid, and the land reclaimed was very rich. 

Turning his new soil in May with a plowshare 
or harrow, the settler dropped Indian corn into 
the earth, and was gladdened by a large harvest in 
October. A store of cornmeal and hominy was 
thus laid by for family consumption, with abun- 
dant provender besides for cattle and poultry. His 
sheep and hogs ranged the forest for their food. 

For a few years it was a rough and lonely life. 
The father and his sons had to roam the woods 
with dog and gun, to shoot deer, raccoons, and 
squirrels for fresh meat, bartering off their skins 
at the nearest store in order to procure clothing, 
tea, and sugar for the household. 

As years went on the land was cleared, and wheat, 
tobacco, and other products were added to the 
crops. The family became prosperous. Other 
immigrants made their homes in the vicinity. 


The wilderness became a settlement. A sawmill 
was built, and at length the intrepid and industrious 
settler moved from the log cabin into a much finer 
and more commodious house. 

His recreation and the recreation of his sons was 
furnished by his gun. The only bird he cared 
to pursue was the wild turkey, though he often 
hunted deer, beaver, or bears. As a mere froHc 
he went after the gray squirrel. There was no 
meat more delicious to the settler than squirrel, 
roasted or stewed. 

While the country was thus growing, Washington 
was so much abused for the treaty he made with 
England that he exclaimed, ''Such exaggerated 
and indecent terms could scarcely be applied to a 
Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a common 
pickpocket. '* But, as Woodrow Wilson says, the 
men who sneered and stormed, talked of usurpa- 
tion and impeachment, called him base, incompe- 
tent, treacherous even, were permitted to see not 
so much as the quiver of an eyelid as they watched 
him go steadily from step to step in the course he 
had chosen. 

Shame finally came upon the men who had 
abused him. The people would have had him 
accept a third term, but he felt that he had served 
them long enough. He had made the nation 


secure and prosperous, and saw that his dream of 
the expansion of the West and Southwest would 
come true. The thirteen loosely associated states 
had unified themselves in a powerful whole. 

When he resigned his office to John Adams, a 
scene occurred which removed all doubt as to his 
standing with the people. A crowd assembled to 
witness the inauguration, but few paid any atten- 
tion to Adams. All eyes were bent upon the 
stately and impressive figure of Washington in 
black velvet with a sword hanging at his side. 

"No one,'' says Mr. Wilson, ''stirred till he had 
left the room to follow and pay his respects to the 
new President. Then they and all the crowd in 
the streets moved after him, an immense company 
going as one man, in total silence, his escort all 
the way. He turned upon the threshold of the 
President's lodgings and looked, as if for the last 
time, upon this multitude of nameless friends. 
No man ever saw him so moved. The tears rolled 
unchecked down his cheeks, and when at last he 
went within, a great, smothered, common voice 
went through the stirred throng as if they sobbed 
to see their hero go from their sight forever." 

Last Days at Mount Vernon 

In bequeathing his swords, Washington wrote 
in his will for those who inherited them, *' These 
swords are accompanied with an injunction not to 
unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood 
except for self-defense, or in defense of their 
country, or its rights, and in the latter case to keep 
them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them 
in their hands to the relinquishment thereof.'^ 

At the end of his second term as President, an 
effort was made to have him seek a third term, but 
he refused. He opened the way for John Adams 
to succeed him, and then retired to his beloved 
Mount Vernon. 

"The remainder of my life (which in the course 
of nature cannot be long)," he said, "will be occu- 
pied with rural amusement, and though I shall 
seclude myself as much as possible from the noisy 
and bustling crowd, none more than myself would 
be regaled by the company of those I esteem, at 



Mount Vernon, more than twenty miles from which, 
after I arrive there, it is not Hkely I shall ever be. 

''Retired from noise myself, and the responsi- 
bihty attached to public employment, my hours 
v/ill glide smoothly on. My best wishes, however, 
for the prosperity of our country will always have 
the first place in my thoughts; while to repair 
buildings and to cultivate my farms, which require 
close attention, will occupy the few years, perhaps 
days, I may be a sojourner here, as I am now in the 
sixty-sixth year of my peregrination through 

Old as he was, the threats of France led him to 
buckle on his sword again and to become for the 
second time commander in chief of the army. But 
the war cloud dispersed, and he was not called on 
afterwards for active service. 

Only three years more of life on this earth 
remained to George Washington. He had brought 
up nephews, nieces, and other relatives with un- 
failing care and devotion ; all his life he had been 
generous and loyal, good and true. To one who 
had criticized him he wrote, ''Whether you have, 
upon any occasion, expressed yourself in dis- 
respectful terms of me, I know not — it has 
never been the subject of my inquiry. If nothing 
impeaching my honor or honesty is said, I care 


little for the rest. I have pursued my uniform 
course for three score years, and am happy in 
beheving that the world has thought it a right one. 
Of its being so, I am so well satisfied myself that 
I shall not depart from it by turning either to the 
right or to the left until I arrive at the end of my 

Washington was very ceremonious at his re- 
ceptions, too much so for Patrick Henry, who de- 
clined several offices, because, he said, with careless 
sarcasm, his habits of life unfitted him for mingling 
with those who were now aping the manners of a 
monarchy. Every Tuesday afternoon Washington 
held levees which began at three o'clock, and he 
appeared clad in black silk velvet, his hair powdered 
and gathered in a silk bag ; with yellow gloves on 
his hands, and holding a cocked hat with a black 
cockade, and the edges adorned with a feather 
about an inch long. He wore knee and shoe 
buckles of silver and a long sword. He always 
stood in front of the fireplace, with his face toward 
the door of entrance. The visitor was led up to 
him and his name announced. Washington re- 
ceived him with a dignified bow, and allowed 
him to pass on without a shake of the hand. 

At a quarter past three the door closed, shutting 
out all who were late, and then the President, 


beginning on the right, moved round the room, say- 
ing a few words to each person. Having finished 
the circuit, he resumed his first position, and the 
visitors came up to him again and once more bowed 
and retired. In an hour the ceremony was over. 

Though he was in his sixty-eighth year, Wash- 
ington still kept up his habit of superintending 
every detail of the work on his plantations. One 
day, December 12, 1799, he was riding forth with 
that purpose in view when he was caught in a 
severe storm. When he reached home he was 
suffering from a chill which compelled him to take 
to his bed and doctors were suinmoned. We know 
all that happened, for his secretary, Tobias Lear, 
who was present, has left all the particulars. Mr. 
Lear proposed that he should take some medicine, 
but Washington answered, ''No, you know I 
never take anything for a cold. Let it go as it 
came." He rapidly grew worse, breathing with 
difficulty, and soon was hardly able to utter a 
word intelligibly. 

Medicine was primitive in those days, and 
they dosed him with various homemade mixtures. 
They even bled him. ''Don't be afraid," he said 
when he saw the hesitation of the man who was to 
make the incision. No improvement followed the 


They next tried blisters, gargles, and drugs such 
as no modern doctor would think of prescribing. 
The treatment probably hastened his end. Two 
days later, with his finger on his own pulse, Wash- 
ington expired without a struggle or a sigh. 

It was Henry Lee (''Light Horse Harry," the 
father of the illustrious General Robert E. Lee) 
who delivered the funeral oration on Washington, 
in which occurs the memorable and oft-quoted 
words, "First in war, first in peace, first in the 
hearts of his countrymen." 

"First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of 
his countrymen, he was second to none in the 
humble and endearing scenes of private Hfe. 
Pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere, dig- 
nified and commanding, his example was as 
edifying to all around him as were the effects of 
that example lasting. To his equals he was con- 
descending, to his inferiors kind, and to the dear 
object of his affections exemplarily tender. Vice 
shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt 
his fostering hand. The purity of his private 
character gave effulgence to his public virtues. 

"His last scene comported with the whole tenor 
of his life. Although in extreme pain, not a sigh 
nor a groan escaped him ; and with undisturbed 
serenity he closed his well-spent life. Such was the 


man America has lost! Such was the man for 
whom our nation mourns. 

^'Methinks I see his august image and hear 
falHng from his venerable lips, these deep, sinking 
words: * Cease, sons of America, lamenting our 
separation. Go on, and confirm by your wisdom 
the fruits of our joint councils, joint efforts, and 
common dangers. Reverence religion; diffuse 
knowledge throughout your land; patronize the 
arts and sciences ; let liberty and order be insepa- 
rable companions ; control party spirit, the bane 
of free government; observe good faith to and 
cultivate peace with all foreign nations ; shut up 
every avenue to foreign influence ; contract rather 
than extend natural connections; rely on your- 
selves only; be American in thought and deed. 
Thus will you give immortality to that union 
which was the constant object of my terrestrial 
labors ; thus will you preserve undisturbed to the 
latest posterity the felicity of a people to me most 
dear ; and thus you will supply (if my happiness 
is aught to you) the only vacancy in the round of 
pure bliss high heaven bestows.' " 

An eloquent tribute to Washington has been paid 
by Henry Cabot Lodge : — 

*'I see in Washington a great soldier, who fought 
a trying war to a successful end impossible without 


him ; a great statesman who did more than all 
other men to lay the foundations of a republic 
which has endured in prosperity for more than a 
century. I find in him a marvelous judgment 
which was never at fault, a penetrating vision 
which beheld the future of America when it was 
dim to other eyes, a great intellectual force, a 
will of iron, an unyielding grasp of facts and an 
unequaled strength of patriotic purpose. I see 
in him too a pure and high-minded gentleman of 
dauntless courage and stainless honor, simple and 
stately of manner, kind and generous of heart. 
Such he was in truth. ' The historian and the biog- 
rapher may fail to do him justice, but the instinct 
of mankind will not fail. The real hero needs not 
book to give him worshipers. George Washington 
will hold the love and reverence of men because 
they see embodied in him the noblest possibilities 
of humanity." 

Surely there has been no nobler man in history 
than George Washington. His one thought and 
only aim were to benefit his country. His simplic- 
ity was as great as his genius. No self-seeking ever 
appeared in his character. He was without vanity 
and without jealousy, a man who surrendered 
himself, heart and soul, that human freedom should 
endure forever. Kingship was nothing to him, 


and nothing ever drew him aside from the generous 
object he cherished above all others. 

I take the words following from a speech made by 
Daniel Webster: — ''Born upon our soil — of 
parents also born upon it — never for a moment 
having had sight of the old world — instructed 
according to the modes of his time, only in the 
spare, plain, but wholesome elementary knowledge 
which our institutions provide for the children of 
the people — growing up beneath and penetrated 
by the genuine influences of American society — 
living from infancy to manhood and age amidst our 
expanding, but not luxurious civilization — par- 
taking in our great destiny of labor, our long 
contest with unreclaimed nature and uncivilized 
man — our agony of glory, the War of Independ- 
ence — our great victory of peace, the formation 
of the Union, and the establishment of the Con- 
stitution, — he is all — all our own ! Washington 
is ours." 

Thus ended the life of one who in all ways takes 
a first place in the pages of history. Search where 
we will, we cannot find another to compare with 
Washington. He was almost entirely without 
blemish, and yet entirely human. As nearly 
blameless as a man can be, he yet was indulgent 
to the faults of others, generous to his enemies, 


devoted to his friends. Malignity was foreign to 
him. Under persecution he sought no reprisal and 
easily forgave. From his earliest boyhood to his 
last day on earth, he was controlled in his thoughts 
and in his actions by an imperative, unabatable, 
and steadfast sense of honor and duty. His 
conscience never slept, even in the smallest of his 
transactions. Nothing which involved honor was 
a trifle to him, nothing a trifle to him that was not 
weighed by the standard of his responsibihty for it. 
Before duty he invariably bowed his head, and 
picked up without the faintest protest any task it 
called for. In the lesser things as in the greater, he 
never allowed himself to decide on their merits 
until he had appraised them by the threefold meas- 
ure of duty to himself, duty to his fellow-man, and 
duty to God. Observe him from whatever angle 
or position we may, he outshines the other great 
characters of history, not by his abilities alone 
but also by his flawless integrity. Had he Hved 
in earlier days he would have been canonized as 
a saint. His military valor was never selfish and 
cruel, like Napoleon's or Marlborough's; his 
statesmanship was unsoiled by the wiles of the 
poHtician; his relationship with his family and 
friends was full of deep and unchanging affection. 
See his infinite variety ! Whatever he undertook 


he did well, whether it was the work of a farmer, 
or that of a general, or that of the President of 
the United States. Well may we feel thrills of 
pride and gratitude when we say with Daniel 
Webster, "Washington is our's," for Washington 
is the chief ornament of our national history. 

Printed in the United States of America. 

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», JUN 89 

INDIANA 46962